India has successfully launched its own desi Global Positioning System (GPS), which is currently being tested for its operations and accuracy and is set to make a debut in the market by early 2018. This Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), has been called ‘NavIC’, for the ease of its use.
ISRO, had on April 2016, successfully launched IRNSS-1G, which was the seventh satellite in the series, to complete the navigation system. NavIC, which is designed to provide accurate positioning information to users within the country, translates to ‘sailor’ or ‘navigator’ in Hindi, a name given by PM Narendra Modi.
The American GPS with 24 satellites in a constellation has a wider reach, whereas NavIC has seven satellites, which covers India and its surrounding with more accuracy than the American system, as is speculated. The Indian GPS is designed to provide standard positioning service to all users with a position accuracy of 5 metres.
India has long been dependent on the GPS developed by the US and had to face major repercussions during the Kargil war in 1999, when the US denied GPS information. These and many instances triggered the need for developing an indigenous navigation system—NavIC being an answer to that.
NavIC has superiority over GPS as it has dual frequency with S and L bands, whereas GPS depends only on L band. In cases where low frequency signal travels through the atmosphere, its velocity changes due to atmospheric disturbances. US relies on atmospheric model to assess the frequency error, whereas India banks on measuring the delay of dual frequency and access the exact error. Hence, NavIC is definitely more accurate and does not dependent on any model to find the accuracy error.
This ambitious project cost ISRO Rs 1,420 crore and is slated to aid terrestrial, aerial & marine navigation, vehicle tracking, fleet management, disaster management and much more. It can be integrated with mobile phones can acts as a navigation tool for hikers and travelers. There are also speculations of restricted service being used by the military for missile delivery and navigation of aircraft.