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2018: launch

Pankaj Doval, India’s desi GPS ‘NavIC’ all set to navigate you, June 19, 2018: The Times of India

Soon, your smartphones and car navigation systems may take directions from NavIC, the government’s desi global positioning system (GPS) that has been developed to challenge the current GPS operations taken from the West.

NavIC, an ambitious project pursued by the government, is in the final stages of launch, and could soon be offered as an Indian counter to foreign systems, currently being used by companies and other users. “Request for Proposal (RFP) has been called to start the implementation of NavIC so that the platform can be rolled out and popularised,” IT secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney said.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has taken a lead in the development of the platform, which is of strategic interest to the country, and not aimed at making revenues, Sawhney said.

NavIC, or the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), will work through a constellation of seven satellites, the last of which was launched around the middle of 2016.

More accurate than US system in India

NavIC (‘Navigation with Indian Constellation’ whose English meaning is ‘sailor’ or ‘navigator’), is designed to provide accurate position information to users within the country. It will help India enter the club of select countries having their own positioning systems. Besides America’s GPS (with 24 satellites in a constellation), Russia has its GLONASS and European Union, its Galileo. Interestingly, China is also in the process of building Beidou Navigation Satellite System.

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also confirmed the development work for the rollout of NavIC. Sawhney said the smartphones that are currently being sold in the country depend on foreign GPS. “Once we are officially there, the NavIC can be embedded on chips and other devices as well as on vehicle navigation systems.”

Asked whether the government would mandate the usage of NavIC, Sawhney said no such decision has been taken. “It will be good to have our own indigenous system.” With seven satellites, the NavIC covers only India and its surroundings and is considered to be more accurate than the American system. NavIC will provide standard positioning service to all users with a position accuracy of 5 metre. The GPS, on the other hand, has a position accuracy of 20-30 metre.

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