Archive for the ‘Global Positioning’ Category

Monitoring planet earth with ABB instrumentation

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Advanced ABB instrumentation is helping space and meteorological agencies all over the world better understand complex processes in the atmosphere and improve their ability to forecast the weather and monitor global climate change. The latest is the Japanese satellite GOSAT (Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite), launched Jan. 22. Its main component is an ABB spatial interferometer.

ABB is the world’s leading supplier of advanced analytical solutions to measure gases and chemicals in the earth’s atmosphere and monitor the dynamic processes that create the world’s weather and the forces that create our climate.

Many of the world’s space agencies and meteorological offices rely on ABB analytical solutions to take these vital measurements in ground-based, airborne and space applications.

Often orbiting in satellites hundreds of kilometers above earth, the solutions provide unique, accurate data on critical phenomena such as ozone depletion and greenhouse gas concentrations, as well as the presence of toxic chemicals during and after natural and manmade disasters.

The cutting-edge ABB solutions are based on Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and are the main analytical components on the satellites and aircraft that carry them. Among the many high-profile installations are: (more…)

TeleNav Launches GPS Vehicle Tracker with AT&T

Saturday, January 10th, 2009



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TeleNav announced that AT&T has added TeleNav Vehicle Tracker to its portfolio of enterprise mobility services.

TeleNav Vehicle Tracker is a GPS-enabled device that is hard-wired or embedded onto a vehicle for monitoring and managing fleet operations. Once installed, TeleNav Vehicle Tracker powers up and is active without requiring any additional driver interaction or resources.

TeleNav says its Vehicle Tracker is accompanied by TeleNav’s password-protected and Web-based management console. Managers can log onto the site and view the location of each vehicle in the fleet.

TeleNav Vehicle Tracker is available immediately on AT&T’s wireless network. The TeleNav Vehicle Tracker device is $399, with a monthly service charge of about $34 per device (additional taxes and fees apply) with a qualified AT&T data plan and TeleNav Vehicle Tracker service plan rates. Customers also pay a one-time setup fee of $19.99 per unit and an $18 data plan activation fee. Volume pricing may be available.

Source: Wireless Week

Cold Chain Fleet Management Made Easy with ColdTrak

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

ColdTrak, the leading Cold Chain vehicle tracking system from market leading GPS tracking specialists CMS SupaTrak is helping UK businesses save money on cold chain running costs thanks to the tracking applications

The cold chain monitoring solution enables fleet managers to get more control of their cold chain fleets by tracking the exact location of their vehicles whilst allowing their drivers to monitor the precise temperatures of refrigerated cargo saving them considerable costs.

In accordance to EU regulation EN 12830:1999 all cold chain businesses must now supervise the exact temperature of chilled or refrigerated goods whilst in transit ColdTrak has proven to be an indispensable business asset.

ColdTrak works using the very latest ZigBee technology and uses robust sensors that send precise temperature recordings from the refrigerated trailer to a central information hub or system in the cab with the driver. Should there be any changes in temperature the driver will be notified and the correct action can be taken.

Source: Open Press

Researchers Demonstrate How to Spoof GPS Devices

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

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With millions of GPS-based navigation devices on the road today, it is time someone considered the question: What if there’s an attack on the GPS network itself?

Researchers at Virginia Tech and Cornell University spent more than a year building equipment that can transmit fake GPS signals capable of fooling receivers.

“GPS is woven into our technology infrastructure, just like the power grid or the water system,” said Paul Kintner, electrical and computer engineering professor and director of the Cornell GPS Laboratory in a statement. “If it were attacked, there would be a serious impact.”

GPS is a U.S. government-built navigation system of more than 30 satellites circling earth twice a day in specific orbits. The satellites transmit signals to receivers on land, sea and in air. Based on the signals received from the satellites, devices are able to triangulate their exact positions on the globe. But if those satellite signals were wrong — or were spoofed — a GPS device might come up with the wrong location based on the signals it was receiving.

The researchers started by programming a briefcase-size GPS receiver used in the research of the uppermost part of the Earth’s atmosphere, known as ionospheric research, to send out fake signals. The phony receiver was placed in the proximity of a navigation device, where it anticipated the signal being transmitted from the GPS satellite. Almost instantly, the reprogrammed receiver sent out a false signal that the GPS-based navigation device took for the real thing.

The experiments to show the vulnerability of GPS receivers to spoofing could help devise methods to guard against such attacks, says Brent Ledvina, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech, and will be detailed in a research paper to be released Thursday.

“It’s almost like someone nearby is spoofing your favorite radio station by transmitting at the same frequency but higher power fooling your receiver into believing it is getting the right station,” says Ledvina.

The idea of GPS receiver spoofing has already been considered by federal authorities. In a December 2003 report, the Department of Homeland Security detailed seven countermeasures including monitoring the absolute and relative GPS signal strength, monitoring the satellite identification codes and the number of signals received and checking the time intervals between the received signals to guard against spoofs.

Still those fall short and would not have successfully fended off the signals produced by a reprogrammed receiver, said the researchers.

Instead they have suggested a few countermeasures that involve both hardware and software changes. “We have two patent applications which include a software algorithm to help make changes to how receivers react to signals,” says Ledvina.

The other patent is around the spoofer tool used, he says. “The idea is to help government and other companies use it to potentially make better receivers,” says Ledvina.

Photo: NASA

Links: HomeLandSecurity, wired

Google Maps to get better satellite imagery from GeoEye

Sunday, August 31st, 2008



Search giant Google signed a deal with Dulles, Va. startup GeoEye to use imagery from its newest satellite after it launches in September of this year.

This is not the first time Google has dealt with GeoEye. It already uses images from its IKONOS satellite, as well as from other sources including DigitalGlobe. As part of the new deal, GeoEye would exclusively provide its imagery to Google.
The half-billion dollar satellite is expected to provide the highest resolution images of any imaging satellite currently available. Google would even get a bit of promotion during launch: Its logo appears on the first-stage rocket.According to the two companies, Google did not pay for the logo to appear on the rocket, nor does it have any direct or indirect financial interest in the launch. It appears the Google logo is only on the rocket in recognition of its support for the project.

GeoEye says it hopes to launch the rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on September 4. If all goes well, it should be in its proper orbit within an hour-and-a-half of launch.

Imagery will be received by Google beginning in late October or early November, although it’s not clear how long it will take for the images to begin to appear on Google Maps. Imagery could conceivably be available at as high as 0.41 meters in black and white, and 1.65 meters in color.

How fine-grained is that? An Italian research project three years ago to study whether it was possible to discern certain types of automobiles that travel around the city of Baghdad (if you work in Baghdad, you’d understand why this is important) from satellite imagery alone, used pictures that had 0.68 meters resolution. And under federal law, only images with as high as 0.5 meters resolution can be used commercially.

Source: Beta News Related links: Google Earth, Geo Eye

GPS-based road tax in the Netherlands in 2011

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

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It’s easy to argue that road taxes are quite unfair because they’re flat: You pay fees to drive around; it doesn’t matter how much you actually use the car.

The Netherlands has decided to improve the country’s road tax by taxing according to the vehicle type, usage, hour and roads the vehicle is using. The system uses GPS, a car transmitter and a standard cell phone GSM network to send this information to a central computer that processes the information. Once these figures are calculated, the driver is charged. Congestion and the environment are both taken into consideration in the rate scheme. Using a highway that enters a city in peak hours while driving an SUV will be taxed more than driving a small car in a rural area where private vehicles are more of a necessity.

Dutch officials hope the system will reduce CO2 emissions and congestion, because the Dutch government claims that there is no more room to build more roads. Critics say this system is an attack on privacy: a computer will know where and when you’ve driven, although the company that implements the system guarantees that this information won’t be stored once translated into money. The system starts in 2011 for freight transport and will be expanded to include cars in 2012. Full deployment of the system is scheduled to be completed in 2016. A similar system has been under study in the UK.

Source: Qué!, Motor Authority

Sources of Errors in GPS

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Selective Availability

The most relevant factor for the inaccuracy of the GPS system is no longer an issue. On May 2, 2000 5:05 am (MEZ) the so-called selective availability (SA) was turned off. Selective availability is an artificial falsification of the time in the L1 signal transmitted by the satellite. For civil GPS receivers that leads to a less accurate position determination (fluctuation of about 50 m during a few minutes). Additionally the ephemeris data are transmitted with lower accuracy, meaning that the transmitted satellite positions do not comply with the actual positions. In this way an inaccuracy of the position of 50 – 150 m can be achieved for several hours. While in times of selective availability the position determination with civil receivers had an accuracy of approximately 10 m, nowadays 20 m or even less is usual. Especially the determination of heights has improved considerably from the deactivation of SA (having been more or less useless before).

The reasons for SA were safety concerns. For example terrorists should not be provided with the possibility of locating important buildings with homemade remote control weapons. Paradoxically, during the first gulf war in 1990, SA had to be deactivated partially, as not enough military receivers were available for the American troops. 10000 civil receivers were acquired (Magellan and Trimble instruments), making a very precise orientation possible in a desert with no landmarks.

Meanwhile SA is permanently deactivated due to the broad distribution and world wide use of the GPS system.

The following two graphs show the improvement of position determination after deactivation of SA. The edge length of the diagrams is 200 m, the data were collected on May 1, 2000 and May 3, 2000 over a period of 24 h each. While with SA 95 % of all points are located within a radius of 45 m, without SA 95 % of all points are within a radius of 6.3 m.

Plot of the position determination with and without SA
(Diagram from http://www.igeb.gov/sa/diagram.shtml (page no longer available)
With friendly permission of Dr. Milbert (NOAA))
Plot of the position determination with SAPlot of the position determination without SA

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Gizmo Project – a network truck

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Gizmo is a remote-controlled toy monster truck which has been tricked out by Calit2 UCSD researchers. At just 20″x14″x11″ in size, it is tiny when compared to regular trucks, but it can deliver something that they cannot: an adaptable and reliable research platform which is reconfigurable for the task at hand.

Gizmo’s “tricks” are treats for researchers. Each truck has a Calit2 CalMesh ad-hoc network board which is equipped with both wireless local area network (WLAN) and global positioning system (GPS) cards. Basic features currently include full motor capabilities (forward, reverse, braking), an override circuit for manual remote control and a web-enabled camera.

The underlying motivation of the Gizmo project is to create an autonomous multi-radio platform that can be controlled by many kinds of interfaces and can be used for a wide variety of applications, such as, disaster response environments, radio frequency (RF) mapping, data gathering and educational purposes, as well as others.

Source: Calit2

The idea of this technology is to develop collision free traffic in the future where cars are control by centralized traffic controller, following the successful of fly-by-wire technology that have been applied in aviation field for years. In the future where most areas are covered by WLAN or WIMAX wireless signals, all vehicles are controlled by central traffic controller where passengers only need to key in their destinations into the cockpit control panel.

Different GPS wildlife tracking solutions

Saturday, May 31st, 2008
WildLife Tracking

GPS wildlife Tracking or GPS Telemetry is another high-potential growth area for GPS applications. With ever smaller dimensions and weights and the availability of solar cell power these devices can be used in a growing number of cases. For most of us GPS tracking means probably GPS vehicle tracking systems, but we will show even more spectacular applications in quite different fields.

Collecting GPS data is one thing, but reading the data is often more complicated and, especially in real-time, rather expensive. The simpler ‘passive’ units store the data in internal memory. Data can only be read, once the unit is retrieved by the user or sometimes when the unit comes within the reach of a radio connection between the unit and a (portable) receiver.

More sophisticated GPS wildlife tracking units send the data via a cellular phone network in regular time intervals or on demand in the case of units with two-way communication. It is obvious that this only can function within the coverage area of the cellular phone network.

Two-way communication has the extra advantage that the programming of the unit can be modified, even with the unit in use and at distance. This way the user can change the time intervals between reports, or even met the unit in a pause position.

The most expensive GPS wildlife tracking systems send the data in regular intervals via satellites (Argos, GlobalStar). This stands for a really global coverage, but is not a real time solution as the satellites can not be reached 24h/24h. Data can only be sent or received when a satellite is overhead.

GPS Wildlife tracking systems

GPS wildlife tracking systems are now available for almost all mammals and even for the bigger birds. In 1994 the first collar, the Lotek GPS_1000 weighed 1.8 kg and was too heavy for mid-sized mammals. Less than 10 years later Microwave Telemetry has developed the PTT-100, a 70 gr solar powered GPS tracking system that transmits the data to the Argos satellite system. We present some other manufacturers and their programs.

The above-mentioned Lotek specializes in GPS collars for small to large mammals. Their collars contain a VHF tracking beacon. Other innovations include remote two-way communication, which allows you to retrieve data on demand and/or reprogram the collar while it is still on the animal. Temperature and mortality sensors as well as field uploads and downloads. All the GPS wildlife tracking collars can be equipped with a remote release mechanism or a drop-off mechanism that is activated after the expiration of a factory pre-programmed time delay.

Televilt Sweden manufactures three different types of collars as well as backpacks for birds. The GPS-Simplex uses a radio link while GPS-Direct and GPS-Weblink use a cell phone modem (GSM 900/1800). All systems can be fitted with a drop off (pre-programmed or remote control release). Televilt only uses Lithium batteries. GPS-Direct and GPS-Weblink are customer programmable while on animal.

Telemetry Solutions is a Californian based telemetry company involved in GPS wildlife tracking since 1998. Last year the development of a proper GPS collar started. The project focuses on equipment reliability (expressed in back-up VHF beacon, two built-in drop off units, custom made GPS receiver amplifier etc.) and how the product is supported. TS intends to deliver a very reliable system and back it up with customer support. This may not seem as anything new; however, wildlife biologists all around the world are used to failing GPS collars and not too friendly customer support. TS intends to change that, to the better. Toma Track is their distributor of GPS wildlife tracking devices in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

BlueSky Telemetry in the UK manufactures GPS tracking collars. The modular design of each collar range enables the biologist to pick and choose different components to suit their individual application. The following options are available: GSM mobile telephone engine, UHF radio modem and Satellite telephone engine, enabling remote setup and download. Other options include Programmable remote drop-off, Temperature, Mortality and Activity sensors and a VHF or UHF radio telemetry beacon.

Telonics has a long history in manufacturing wildlife telemetry, conventional telemetry and tracking devices. Their Store-on-Board GPS Collars for animal tracking applications, with or without ARGOS Uplink, are only part of a program of quality electronics for wildlife, environmental research and special applications.

Wildlife tracking

Environmental Studies from Germany is distributor of Vectronic Aerospace GPS collars. The modular system around the GPS Plus collar offers two completely different options of data download while the collar is still on the animal: via UHF radio link on demand or continuously via GSM mobile phone directly into the office. Several accessories are available: a VHF beacon, an activity/mortality logger, a temperature logger and different drop-off systems. All GPS collars can store the positions of the animal on board in non-volatile flash memory. The same technology is also available as a 160gr backpack for large birds.

Wildlife Track Inc. develops and manufactures telemetry and direction finding systems. Their GPS wildlife tracking collars store up to 6240 three-dimensional locations with date and time in nonvolatile memory. Nominal weight is 500 gr and a VHF beacon is standard on all collars. GPS battery lasts up to 7 years (one fix per day). GPS collar circumference is adjustable and WGS 84 or NAD 83 Datums can be specified upon ordering.

The Advanced Telemetry Systems GPS Remote Release Collar can be remotely triggered to drop off the animal on command with the available ATS Command Unit. The collar will also automatically drop off as it reaches the end of its battery life to ensure data retrieval. Up to 8190 locations can be stored on board the unit. The collar incorporates a VHF transmitter to signal location, the status of the last GPS co-ordinate, mortality and battery conditions. The ATS collar also provides data on animal activity, ambient temperature, mortality, VHF duty cycle program, battery voltage and the amount of time logged on the battery backup.

North Star has developed a line of animal GPS collars and bird borne platform transmitter terminals (PTT’s). Acquisition of GPS locations for store and forward through a satellite service provider can be programmed in a variety of duty cycles.

Source: GPS-practice-and-fun.com

Kyocera Adds BREW to M2M Developer Tools

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Kyocera Wireless used this week’s BREW conference in San Diego to take the wraps off two new BREW-enabled modules – the 300 and the 1xD. The modules allow customers to reduce cost by running integrated BREW applications within the embedded module. This reduces the need for external application processors in M2M solutions.

“In leveraging the … BREW platform within our new modules, we are creating additional value and versatility for our customers,” said Dean Fledderjohn, general manager of the M2M product line at Kyocera Wireless.

The 300 module integrates Qualcomm chipsets in a small but rugged form factor and delivers lower power consumption, extended operating temperatures and multimode assisted and integrated autonomous GPS.

The 1xD module provides a cheaper platform for telemetry and other data-only applications that don’t need GPS or voice features. The module’s reduced power consumption, streamlined feature-set and small size reduce the total cost of ownership and make it ideal for remote metering/monitoring and alarm applications.