In what can be considered an answer to America’s GPS Technology, Russia has increased the momentum of the development of its decades old GLONASS satellite navigation system. According to the Russian government, the GLONASS civil navigation signals will be made available to customers free of cost and without any restriction. The navigation satellite system is expected to be operational by the year end. This augurs well for India as being a supporter of the project right from the beginning, it will get to use the free signals even for military purposes.
As GLONASS can receive signals simultaneously from its own satellites as well as from the American GPS, non-stop signal use is guaranteed. Russia has recently launched two major projects – a single telephone number (112) for all rescue services, medical services and the police in emergency situations; and an emergency response system in case of car accidents (ERA-GLONASS) using GLONASS. It is expected to be ready by 2014. Starting in 2012 all new cars sold in Russia may be equipped with this system.
Russia plans to promote GLONASS globally with an emphasis on India, the Middle East and Latin America. In India, it will be operated by a joint venture between NIC and the State Corporation Antrix (which is in charge of commercialising the services of ISRO). NIC’s partners for the project include Hyderabad-based HBL Power Systems Ltd.