Galileo and GPS – what’s the difference? Which one will give me what I care about; improved accuracy and signal coverage? Well, having explored the net for as much reliable information as I could get my hands on, I’ve got the answers.
Europe’s satellite navigation system is the Galileo project. This system has been specifically designed for commercial and civilian use, unlike the American owned GPS program which was originally designed for military usage. Galileo has (or will have as it’s still being set up) a network of 30 satellites as well as Ground Stations. Apparently its sole purpose is to ‘compliment’ the current system (to which I say yeah right! Europe trying to help the US system rather than creating a better one for themselves? Of course they are! Anyway…)
Galileo offers a higher degree of accuracy than the US GPS system, with co-ordinates accurate to within a metre. When the new system does come into place, a different receiver will be required to use it, but the people behind the system are already discussing its possibile applications for the blind, the police, transport, search and rescue and more.
What’s interesting is that only a few weeks after the first Galileo signal was received, the Bush administration revealed plans to update their GPS system – what a coincidence I hear you cry! So even if the Galileo offers nothing more than forcing the existing system to update, I think it will be worth the wait.