Computers and TechnologyTech

NAVIC — India’s GPS

NAVIC — a homegrown regional positioning system that provides India with a technological edge.

NAVIC is a testimony to India’s technological culture spearheaded by ISRO which is fast establishing itself as among the premier scientific institutions in the world. Born out of it’s immense appetite for development in the field of science and technology and buoyed by a newly announced policy of self-reliance, it is successfully pushing Indian scientific dominance and flavour into the global mainstream.

NAVIC — an accurate system

In 2020, India became the fourth nation after the US, Russia, and China to introduce it’s own navigation system — the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. The IRNSS is recognised by the IMO as part of the Worldwide Radio Navigation System.

Called Navigation With Indian Constellation —NAVIC is India’s technological advance that corresponds to the tried and tested American GPS and Russian GLONASS which provide PNT— Positioning, Navigation and Timing, using modern satellite technology. The homegrown NAVIC is an achievement of the now globally recognised and regarded ISRO, and is operational in a regional span that covers the whole of India as well as neighbouring areas within 1,500 kms of the Indian borders. The NAVIC app from ISRO provides navigation support using a constellation of seven satellites positioned in orbits higher than those of GPS, which makes it more accurate than GPS.

NAVIC is a landmark achievement for India’s self-reliance

A significant achievement by India’s ISRO, NAVIC harks back to another challenging situation in 2003, when Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, a subsidiary of ISRO, against all odds, launched India’s own Cryogenic rocket engine which powered the upper stage of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk 3.

…and regional diplomacy

NAVIC’s significance extends beyond India’s own immediate interests. Since it covers geographic areas beyond India’s own borders, it affords the country scope to expand it’s diplomatic influence into adjoining countries. The regionally functional relevance of NAVIC allows India to act and project itself as a net security provider in it’s neighbourhood. It enables India to play a critical, active role in providing disaster management, surveillance prompted intelligence and relief assistance in the event of natural calamities like earthquakes and tsunamis to other countries in the region. Significantly, NAVIC gives India the ability to carry out regular and real-time surveillance and monitoring in the waters of the Indian ocean which is India’s immediate backyard and waters. Over 2,500 vessels including fishing vessels sailing in the Indian ocean access India’s navigation system at any given time.

NAVIC is for civilian as well as strategic purposes

The Indian subcontinent—oriented positioning system serves the dual objectives of navigation, surveying, and surveillance to both the civilian as well as the defence aspects of India and it’s immediate neighbouring regions. In the civilian context, NAVIC provides functional ease and accuracy to the civic administration in operating systems and maintaining services machinery across the country, benefitting society immensely. Private civilians derive direct benefit from it in their day-to-day life experiences. Some benefits to India and it’s citizens of having their own navigation and positioning system are,

  • NAVIC facilitates navigation for vehicle drivers. It allows both visual and voice positioning guidance.
  • NAVIC provides terrestrial navigation to adventurers on hiking and camping trips.
  • It provides major and conclusive assistance to the administration and defence institutions in obtaining real-time knowledge and awareness in terrestrial, aerial as well as marine environments.
  • NAVIC assumes a key role in mapping and obtaining precise geodetic data enabling the relevant authorities to document and update territorial information as well as provide relevant and accurate weather updates on an ongoing basis.
  • It allows fleet service providers to have real-time information on location which is critical to administrating and providing timing and precise services.
  • By the same virtue, it allows law enforcement to track vehicles and ensure safety and order.
  • Similarly, it enables smooth and seamless functioning of traffic management.
  • It helps with geo management and identifying and monitoring sites bearing important and valuable natural resources.
  • For the most part, it immensely contributes to precise navigation and safety enhancement in roadways, railways, waterways, and aerial transportation.
  • It’s seamless and wholesome integration with mobile telephony enables individuals and departments to interact and function effectively by accessing real-time data.
  • Mobility-based business activities like travel and tourism derive meaningful and profitable benefits from the positioning system.

Is NAVIC better than GPS ?

Not only is India’s NAVIC more accurate than GPS, but it also presents a self-sufficient means and apparatus to cater to various civilian needs and, significantly, is a proprietary and readily accessible navigation super-tool for the country’s defence departments and forces.

From the accuracy aspect, significantly, NAVIC is able to achieve a positioning accuracy of 5-10 metres as compared to 20 metres by the renowned GPS. This is in large measure owing to NAVIC’s satellites being positioned in much higher orbits as compared to GPS, resulting in fewer potential obstructions in the path.

Ahead of many developed nations

The fact that India is already ahead of countries like France, Australia, Germany, and many other developed nations is a testimonial to the capability India’s premier technology institution — ISRO.

Preparing for a global cause

NAVIC acts as an enabler for India’s technological and scientific advancement as well as significantly fulfills India’s sovereignty and strategic needs. A new policy draft by the Department of Space, India ( DOS ) has been released with the stated objective of making the Indian satellite navigation and augmentation signals more interoperable with other GNSS systems like GPS and so on, with the idea of pushing it globally.

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