“Please, turn left in one-quarter mile.”
By now, almost anyone with an automobile has become familiar with satellite navigation. It’s made it possible for motorists all over the world to find remote and obscure locations – and forget how to get to the nearest 7/11 on their own.
Each year, more and more cars come factory-equipped with “navi” systems, and countless more drivers opt for the windshield-mounted, aftermarket systems that have become some of the most popular gifts at Christmastime, according to retail expects. There are also handheld systems, and even some of the latest smart cellphones, such as Apple’s iPhone, rely on the network of up to 32 mid-orbit satellites that constantly broadcast precise signals that, by comparing several signals simultaneously, can be used to predict location, altitude, time and velocity.
But what happens if the satellites start to fail? That’s a potential problem that could begin to become reality as early as next year, according to a new U.S. government report. (more…)