Out in Front: Ruminations Upon a Technical Program

June 1, 2013  - By
Image: GPS World

The Institute of Navigation’s (ION’s) advance program for the 2013 GNSS+ conference in September arrived in the mail the other day, and was avidly consumed. The technical sessions of this gathering are prime hunting ground for presentations that later become articles in this magazine, as are, to lesser extent, those of the European Navigation Conference, the Joint Navigation Conference, CTIA, ITS World Congress, and others.

Something struck me as I scanned the 280-odd presentations listed under 36 session tracks: the frequency with which the word BeiDou appeared. To determine if there were any substance to this fleeting impression, I essayed a quantitative analysis. Naturally, GPS and the generic GNSS occurred times beyond measure, but this is how the others fared.

Galileo: 13
BeiDou: 19.

What does this signify? Little enough, possibly. Still, something. A satellite navigation system bursts seemingly out of nowhere and within a few short years virtually laps the field, putting 20 (14 usable) transmitters into space and establishing a regional operating capability, soon to be global. That sort of thing tends to get noticed.

The titles of BeiDou-focused papers on tap this fall in Nashville — not all of them springing from the laptops of Chinese engineers, not by a long shot — add substance to this passing fancy.
◾    BeiDou Consumer Receiver Chips at Last.
◾    A Combined GPS/BeiDou Vector Tracking Algorithm for Ultra-tightly Coupled Navigation Systems.
◾    Towards the Inclusion of Galileo and BeiDou/Compass Satellites in Trimble CenterPoint RTX.
◾    New Assisted BeiDou Products from JPL’s Global Differential GPS System.
◾    BeiDou Integration in Cell Phones and Tablets.
◾    BeiDou — A System That is Now Ready for Applications.
◾    Augmenting GPS RTK with Regional BeiDou in North America.
◾    New Systems, New Signals, New Positions — Providing BeiDou Integration.

The affiliations of some of the authors of the above read like a top-level directory of North American and European GNSS manufacturers. Clearly, the ground has been plowed and the fields lie ready — if they are not already planted. Unless that’s too mixed a metaphor for satellite radionavigation signals.

The recent acquisition of one Western GNSS manufacturer by a major Chinese business concern has not gone unnoticed, either.
For more intelligence, I consulted the newest member of this magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board. He replied to my emailed penny for his thoughts.

“I would be happy to contribute a column for the July issue based on my observations here at the China Satellite Navigation Conference in Wuhan. The article would be titled: Little Tigers versus Wolves.”

Wow. Now I wonder, who’s who?

This article is tagged with , , , and posted in Opinions