Unfortunately, right now, the world relies way too much on the GPS (Global Positioning System) in order to obtain accurate driving indications, being literally flooded with thousands of GPS-based PNDs (personal navigation devices). However, the future might not be so bright for the GPS system, given the fact that its level of accuracy might record some significant drops starting with 2010.
The reason? Well, as Adam C. Engst from TidBITS
explains, the satellites used by the GPS system (24 up to 32 medium Earth orbit satellites) are getting old, with their replacements still far away from reaching space.
Apparently, the biggest issue here is not related to antiquated hardware (after all, interconnecting 20-year-old satellite hardware with modern telecommunication systems becomes more and more difficult), not even to the fact that the number of satellites might be getting lower, as some of the existing ones either get decommissioned or simply break down. No, in fact, it's all about money. And people.
So, the worst thing is that there's only one organization in charge of this system, used by the entire world, namely the United States Air Force 50th Space Wing. This part of the United States military has to constantly upgrade and spend a rather large amount of money in order to keep its operations, while the whole world takes advantage of it. And it's by no means a cheap task, so the economic crisis currently affecting the entire world has a huge effect on the budget for launching new satellites.
Even if the number of satellites decreases, the GPS won't fail completely, but the level of positioning accuracy might not be the same. However, while accuracy is not vital in case of normal PNDs (after all, the worst thing that could happen is for you to take the wrong turn), things are much more complex in military applications, where any accuracy drops might have some potentially catastrophic results.
Of course, given the huge level of popularity enjoyed by the GPS system (for both military and civilian applications), we hope the right solutions will be found, even if it means imposing a small tax on each GPS user, for example. We are just a few, but there are many of you, Softpedia users, out there. That's why we thought it would be a good idea to create an email address for you to help us a little in finding gadgets we missed. Interesting links are bound to be posted with recognition going mainly to those who submit. The address is .