Friday, March 03, 2017

What if GPS Dies?

There is no doubt that GPS (Global Positioning System) has changed the way we navigate.  Our phones, or our little GPS receivers in the car, or boat, or plane, sure help us keep ourselves on track.  But, what happens if the system glitches, or dies?  This article at Strategy Page explores the options.
Since introduced in the early 1990s GPS (satellite based navigation) has revolutionized movement in unfamiliar areas and nowhere was this more apparent than in the military, where so many personnel on the ground, flying aircraft and steering ships operate in unfamiliar surroundings. Yet after a decade old forms of navigation (using compass, sextant and maps) began to fade away in the military. But after a few years a growing number of commanders, and their subordinates, realized that that satellites could fail or be jammed and the only alternative would be to fall back on the old ways. Training was revised.
Training was revised?  Really?  GPS is a tool, but it's not the end-all in land navigation.  And, lete me tell you a little secret; when you're riding in 50 tons of steel, a compass isn't any help either. Navigation from a steel container is by terrain association, keeping track of the sun in the sky, or the way a creek is flowing, or where that big terrain feature might be. A compass is certainly useful,   A GPS is certainly useful, but it's not a crutch.

Which reminds me.  I need to buy a new Rand McNally atlas and put one in the new vehicle.


Anonymous said...

Which is why as an Evil Homeschooling Mom I taught my kids to read a map, use a compass, geography, cursive writing and a few other archaic subjects like US Constitution, reading for comprehension and critical thinking. Judy

Theother Ryan said...

Our Army is definitely tracking this and considering it in training. Maps and compasses and all of that stuff.

Anonymous said...

If I may, I'd also suggest a DeLorme state atlas. Hell, the little goat-track of a road I live on is even shown on my Tennessee DeLorme. In addition to the usual roads, etc., they're also semi-topo, with shading & contour lines.
Whenever I go to a state I haven't visited before, I generally pick one up. They're often available at truck stops, so I just grab one when I fuel up & go in to depressurize my coupler.
--Tennessee Budd

Peripatetic Engineer said...

When I was riding in oil field helicopters back in the 80s, there was a big sign on the instrument panel...Navigation shall not be predicated on LORAN alone.