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Seen & Heard: Bats, buses and cows

September 10, 2019  - By

“Seen & Heard” is a monthly feature of GPS World magazine, traveling the world to capture interesting and unusual news stories involving the GNSS/PNT industry.

Batman only wishes he had one

New miniature GPS “backpacks” are making it possible to track tiny desert bats, providing insight into their lives. Tiny 1-g GPS tags showed University of Helsinki researchers that Africa’s yellow-winged bats struggle during dry periods. The species is one of the few desert bats large enough to carry the tag. Researchers placed GPS trackers on 29 bats, 15 in the rainy season and 14 in the dry season, for one week each, and recorded their positions every 30 to 60 minutes each night.

Photo: iStock/ MBPROJEKT_Maciej_Bledowski

Photo: iStock/ MBPROJEKT_Maciej_Bledowski

The wheels on the bus need GPS

All New York City public school buses will provide GPS tracking by the first day of class this fall. The city has teamed up with Via to install the equipment and provide an app for real-time tracking of the nearly 10,000 buses. The city council approved the tracking program after a sudden snowstorm in November 2018 left buses stranded in traffic for hours, and parents couldn’t reach their kids.

Keep on truckin’

Shipping company UPS is investing in autonomous deliveries, specifically in TuSimple, a robot-trucking startup. UPS is testing self-driving tractor trailers on a route between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, to help it understand requirements for Level 4 autonomous trucking. TuSimple completed a two-week pilot with the U.S. Postal Service in May, hauling mail between Phoenix and Dallas. All TuSimple trucks operate with two technicians in the cab, with the aim to operate without drivers within two years.

A+ for GPS Cows

High-school students interested in agricultural professions can now learn about the use of GPS for monitoring livestock, and even make their own GPS collars. The collaborative GPS Cows program brings together industry researchers, professionals and educators from the U.S. and Australia. GPS Cows is fighting the misperception that ag-focused students don’t need digital literacy, and is engaging them in agri-tech, specifically tools and systems that provide animal location and behavior data.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.