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GNSS Hotspots

In this issue: Crowdshipping, Remailing Valentines, Rescue Robots, Point-Counterpoint and Bridging the Gap

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1. E-CROWDSHIPPING
Palo Alto, California USA
√ A California-based startup uses crowdsourced GNSS data to get your shopping bags home before you. Deliv works in 600+ malls — you call to request a pickup, leave your bags at the store, and a courier who is geolocated via Twitter picks them up and drops them off at your destination of choice within an hour for a modest fee. The company vets the drivers, social networking reviews them, and you can track the driver and the bags in real time on your phone.

2. HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!
Reston, Virginia USA
√ The 2.5 million records in the official USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), locates, identifies, names and spells physical and cultural features in the USA. But we can use it for fun. For example, 192 features in 35 states carry the name “Valentine,” including a canyon, well, ridge, spring, geyser, trailhead, gulch, windmill, water hole, several mines and cemeteries plus post offices in Nebraska, Texas and Virginia. Want their postmarks on your valentines? Check out the USPS remailing service.

3. WHO YA GONNA CALL?
Linköping, Sweden
Rescue robots, that’s who. The 2013 IEEE Safety, Security and Rescue Robotics conference discussed advances in the caring side of UAVs — for example, a collection of bots with the abilities of hawks, wasps, and donkeys who can reach you under a mountain of snow in 15 minutes. Or fleets of little, cheap easy-to assemble “fanboats” that can transmit information and deliver supplies when you’re isolated in a flood. If you’re trapped in a collapsed building, UAVs with special cameras will be able to find access holes in piles of rubble. Better than brandy and a St. Bernard.

4. POINT COUNTERPOINT
Moscow, Russia and Pasadena, California USA
NASA and the FAA liked Russia’s proposal for GLONASS monitoring stations on American soil at first. Not so fast, said the CIA and Congress. Now Russia has another idea — use the International GNSS Service (IGS), a Jet Propulsion Lab–based international organization of more than 200 agencies that maintains a global network of GNSS monitoring stations and data archive. 140 stations already collect GLONASS data and will offer real-time service (RTS) for GLONASS later this year. The problem? It doesn’t have the same service and availability guarantee as a proprietary monitoring system. Stay tuned.

5. BRIDGE THE GAP
New Delhi, India
√ India certified GAGAN —GPS Augmented Navigation System — for en route navigation and non-precision approaches (RNP O.1) on December 30. The system will bridge the gap for civil aviation between Europe’s EGNOS and Japan’s MSAS. The GAGAN signal is broadcast through GEO satellites GSAT-8 and -10. A spare navigation payload will go up with GSAT-15 sometime this year.

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