Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sunspots bad news for sat-nav users

Whilst many ham radio blogs have commented happily on the effects of an increase in solar activity, true to form the BBC has managed to find a downside. A story has just appeared on the BBC website telling us that the increase in sunspots will make our sat-navs go haywire leading presumably to airliners crashing, lorries falling off bridges and walkers getting lost in the mountains.

There was news story a few months ago (yes, this was actually on the national BBC TV evening news) that the Earth could collide with Mars in a billion years time. Don't let the fact that we won't merely be dead but extinct when it happens spoil a good doomsday story. I sometimes wonder if the BBC is the reason Britain is becoming a nation of binge drinkers on antidepressants.

My memory is not what it was, but I seem to recall that people did use GPS during the last solar maximum and nothing catastrophic happened. If you actually read the story, the effect of this increased solar activity is that your reported position could be inaccurate by up to ten metres. Occasionally. Gosh, better start preparing for this now, then.

A far bigger problem with satellite navigation systems is that the maps are inaccurate with the result locally that vehicles are still being directed along routes that would take them over bridges that are closed or even washed away after last year's flooding. Now that really is a news story.
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