NavIC: India’s answer to the American-GPS & Russian Glonass

Image credit: ISRO

Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) also known as Indian Regional Satellite System (IRNSS) is a project of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to make India self-reliance on the GPS technology. It is designed to provide accurate real-time positioning and timing information service for India and the region extending up to 1500KM.

Now India is in a select group of countries which has their own positioning system which includes USA, Russia, Japan, China and Europian Union. It is more accurate and superior than its American counterpart as it uses dual-frequency (S-Band and L-band) and A-GPS uses only single L-band and when its signal passes through atmosphere its velocity changes whereas NavIC maintains its signal.

It costed ISRO around 1400 Crore rupees to develop this technology. It has total of 7 active satellites to provide data, three of them are located in Geostationary Orbit and Four in Geosynchronous orbit which is an altitude of 35,800 KM (Planes fly at the maximum height of 12KM).

The first satellite was launched in 2013 and the last to complete the series was launched in 2018. ISRO faced initial failure when the atomic clock in one of its satellite failed and another carrying its replacement failed in its third stage during the launch.

Image credit: ISRO (Representation purpose only)

Why we needed our own GPS technology?

From a normal user point of view, It is more accurate and fast as it uses Indian satellites positioned in the Earth’s orbit to locate our position which can also accurately locate in underground areas.

From a strategic point of view, It gives our military upper hand over counter military. India realized to develop its own GPS technology when USA denied GPS access to India during Kargil War in 1999. It could have given vital information to Indian military to keep an eye and stop the Pakistani military infiltration in Indian territory.

NavIC provides services to civilians through Standard Positioning Service (SPS) and Restricted Service (RS) to authorized personnel like military. Its accuracy is up to 5m for normal users and upto 0.1m to authorized personnel compared to America’s accuracy range of 20m

What is meant for normal users?

Well, first it will locate our position faster, more accurate even in low signal area like underground, marine, aerial and terrestrial areas and it will help in disaster management for quick response . It will upgrade our current map data and navigation. It will provide better data capture, visual info and voice navigation for drivers.

Image credit: Twitter

When we can expect this technology to become available for us?

ISRO has provided tech and consultation to Mobile chipset maker Qualcomm towards enabling NavIC capabilities in Snapdragon chipset and Qualcomm have even released a few chipsets (Snapdragon 720G, 662 and 460) which has NavIC support.

Recently, Xiaomi announced that It will launch its upcoming Redmi and Mi devices with NavIC capabilities. So we can expect many mobile brands to jump their gun to enable India’s own GPS tech to their smartphones.

Thanks for reading. I will come back next week with another interesting tech topic.



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