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Japan launches its own navigation system

Japan on Saturday launched an H-2A rocket carrying a geo-positioning satellite into orbit after a week-long delay, the government said.

The launch of Japan’s third geo-positioning satellite is part of its plan to build a version of the U.S. global positioning system (GPS) to offer location information used for autopiloting and possible national security purposes.

The government postponed the launch a week ago because of a technical glitch.

“With the success of the third satellite, we have made another step closer for having signals from four satellites in the future,” Masaji Matsuyama, minister in charge of space policy, said in a statement.

The government plans to launch a fourth satellite by the end of the year to start offering highly precise position information by next April.

Japan plans to boost the number of its geo-positioning satellites to seven by 2023, making its system independently operational even if the U.S. GPS becomes unavailable for some reason, a government official said previously.

The satellite was manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric Corp and was blasted into orbit by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.

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Drivewise rewards those who exhibit safe driving behaviours with lower auto insurance premiums, Allstate Canada said in a press release, adding that the program “offers safe drivers the highest saving potential in the industry with up to 30 per cent off insurance premiums.”

Using a small wireless telematics device easily installed within a vehicle, Drivewise captures and analyzes data on how a vehicle is driven and offers discounts for safe driving habits, Allstate Canada reported. Data measured includes time of day and number of kilometers driven, as well as speed and braking habits. Users have access to this data through an online portal, which allows them to monitor their driving habits.

“Usage-based insurance offers users the potential of reduced rates while also giving them the opportunity to learn more about their driving habits, as well as the behaviours of others who drive their vehicle,” said David MacInnis, vice president of product operations with Allstate Canada. “We hope programs such as this, that reward drivers for good driving behaviour, will help make our roadways safer, while reducing insurance costs.”

Once drivers are enrolled in the program and the device is installed, their driving will be monitored for a six-month period, Allstate Canada explained in the release. The data collected will be used to determine the earned discount (up to 30%) that will be applied at renewal. So far, of those participating in this program across the country, 70% are earning some form of a discount, the insurer reported.

“We designed Drivewise so that a customer’s premium will go down if they are shown to be a safe driver,” MacInnis said in the release. “We pride ourselves on offering the highest savings potentials in the industry, while also ensuring that if a Drivewise customer doesn’t qualify for a discount, their premium won’t increase as a result of participating in the program.”

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Four bank robbers were detained with a GPS-tracker

Four bank robbers are headed to prison for a holdup last September.

Marcus Warren, Steven Muldrew, and Shaun Murph Jr. have all been sentenced to 20 to 25 years while Freddie Johnson IV has been sentenced to 14 to 18 years.

The sentencing involves the robbery of the US Bank near 132nd and Maple but authorities say all of the suspects have been connected to other metro bank robberies.

The suspects in the holdup were quickly arrested. A security company alerted authorities that a GPS packet had been activated at the bank. The packet activates when it moves.

Detectives followed the GPS signal to the Knolls Golf Course near 113th Street. The police helicopter crew spotted the suspects getting out of a vehicle and helped officers on the ground round up the suspects.

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(Укр) Технічний персонал КСТ підкорює EURO 6

Sorry, this entry is only available in Ukrainian and Russian.

Jamming GPS Signals Is Illegal, Dangerous, Cheap, and Easy

I ordered it on eBay. When the four-ounce envelope arrived from New York three days later, it looked innocuous enough. It contained a finger-sized black plastic box, a small black antenna to screw onto that box, and two glass fuses. It was designed to fit into a car’s 12-volt electrical socket (that thing that used to hold a cigarette lighter).

If I were to plug the gadget into my car, it would jam up the Global Positioning System signals within a 16-foot radius, rendering my smartphone’s Google Maps app useless and disabling any tracking devices that might be on my vehicle. That may sound harmless enough, but when one considers that thousands of lives (everyone in an airplane right now, for instance) and billions of dollars depend on reliable and accurate GPS signals, it’s easy to understand why my little jammer and others like it are illegal to use, sell, or manufacture in the United States. Every time I turn it on, I could incur a $16,000 fine.

But they’re easy to get online, and I’m not the only one who has ordered one.

For the last eight months, security researcher Vlad Gostomelsky has been operating sophisticated detectors around the country to find out who’s using GPS jammers in the wild, and why. His research has turned up fascinating cases of everyday people using the jammers despite the risks—he’s seen truckers trying to avoid paying highway tolls, employees blocking their bosses from tracking their cars, high school kids using them to fly drones in a restricted area, and even, he believes, undercover police officers using them to avoid tails—and demonstrates that in the wireless world, devices that you use to avoid detection can actually make it easier to find you. You just need to be looking in the right channels.

The sale and use of jammers, even by police, is a federal crime withpunishment ranging from fines to prison time. Whatever a user’s individual reasons may be, the jammers can present a serious threat, scrambling the satellite signals that vital systems—phones, airplanes, the New York Stock Exchange—depend on. When one of them is in use, those systems can go haywire.

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Cisco and TomTom are developing the new traffic monitoring system

  Network tech titan Cisco is working with TomTom to research and develop what the two are calling an “ultra-fast lane level traffic technology” that supports autonomous driving. Put simply, both companies have significant expertise harnessing traffic data, and now they’re putting their heads together and pooling resources.

  “With this project, we are connecting road infrastructure, vehicles, drivers, and road authorities, enabling them to exchange information in near real time,” explained Edwin Paalvast, president EMEAR (Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Russia) at Cisco. “That is what the Internet of Things is about. With TomTom’s expertise, its gigantic pool of traffic data and innovative traffic technology, TomTom is a strong company to work with in this field.”

  In terms of the kinds of things the two companies will be working on, one example cited is Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) technology, which involves burying a fibre optic cable adjacent to a busy road to detect vibrations and provide real-time monitoring of vehicle movements, making it possible to establish trends and patterns. Combining such data with TomTom’s pool of GPS-based floating car data means it can be displayed and analysed through a TomTom interface designed specifically for traffic management centers.

  Ultimately, TomTom and Cisco are working to increase the precision of real-time traffic services and make them more affordable to cities or companies that find value in such data. It’s worth noting that this ties in with the burgeoning autonomous car industry, too. Self-driving cars require ridiculously accurate on-board sensors so they can “see” the world around them — which is why Intel shelled out $15.3 billion for computer vision firm Mobileye — and vehicles without humans at the wheel need accurate, real-time data of the environment around them.

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Path Guide – a new application for indoor navigation

  Microsoft has released a new research-based mobile application called ‘Path Guide’ that helps with indoor navigation at places like an office building or a shopping mall. According to a blog post on the Microsoft blog the new app will help users find a place or room inside an office building or a shopping mall, even if GPS is not available.

  According to the post, GPS satellite signals are not accurate and most of the signals get blocked by building walls. Due to the poor penetration of GPS signals indoors, users are not able to access navigation apps in indoor locations. Microsoft keeping the problem in mind has created an app that will help users navigate inside a building without any assistance from a GPS satellite.

  The app will navigate by tracing the path created by a ‘leader’ a person who has been to the location before and has uploaded the path followed by him. The updated or traced path by the ‘leader’ will help new users visiting the place to get to the location easily.


  The app also allows users to trace back the path from the destination i.e if a person wants to go out of a building from a room, the app will show instructions to get out of the building.

  The navigation system is based on magnetic sensor data gathered from different locations thanks to the geomagnetic field inside a building that Microsoft claims is relatively stable.

  The app can be installed in a smartphone without any need for a map service and is available free of cost on the Google Play Store and on the project’s official website.

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“Hacking tool” for your car

Renowned hacker George Hotz wants to give you the tools to hack your own car to put an autonomous vehicle in your garage. His new company,, is making that vision a reality today with its very first product.

The company announced it’s launching the Panda, a new $88 universal car interface that will help turn your normal vehicle into an autonomous one

The Panda is a dongle that plugs into you car’s OBDII port — something every car made after 1996 should have — and gathers a host of data. Normally this includes speed, location, fault codes and a few other things but the Panda can reportedly surface data from a lot more sensors. For now it doesn’t actually know what each sensor in every car does but since everything is open source, is hoping to build a community around its platform to help fill in the gaps.

Along with the Panda dongle the company is launching Chffr, which is a dashcam app that lets users record their rides, as well as a Controller Area Network (CAN) analysis tool — the main vehicle interface standard — called Cabana to interpret all the information gathered by the tiny device.

Panda isn’t targeted at the average car user but rather tinkerers and enthusiasts that may want to build products around it. Down the road, Hotz says he’d still like to build a kit for self-driving capabilities in every car and possibly offer a monthly subscription plan

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TomTom launched its paid navigation service in Ukraine

TomTom June 20 announced the launch of its paid navigation service in Ukraine, (also in Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Croatia and Romania) extending the service’s reach to 64 countries. With these new countries added, TomTom now offers the most comprehensive traffic coverage of Europe as well as of the Middle-East, including Israel.

TomTom Traffic offers up-to-date information on road conditions such as traffic jams, roadworks and accidents. This information can be used by drivers to find the most optimal route and avoid congestion, but also by cities and road authorities to monitor, analyse and influence the traffic. “The further geo-expansion of TomTom Traffic into Eastern Europe and the Middle East will be a huge help to drivers, businesses and government in better managing traffic flow, increasing road safety and easing the impact of congestion on the environment”, said Andreas Erwig, VP Business Development and Business Operations at TomTom.

With rapid developments in Autonomous Driving and an increased focus on Smarter Cities and Transportation, accurate and fresh traffic information is playing an increasingly important role. As a result, TomTom is working on making its traffic technology available in a greater number of countries, supported by the continuous growth in the supply of source data it receives from over 500 million devices*.

TomTom plans to further accelerate its Traffic geo-expansion plans with several additional countries expected to be launched in 2017. This rapid growth demonstrates the scalability of the TomTom Traffic technology, as well as the ability of TomTom to support its clients globally with high quality maps and traffic services.

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Scientists have found brain structures that work like a GPS-navigator

  An international research team led by the University of Amsterdam researchers Jeroen Bos, Martin Vinck and Cyriel Pennartz has identified a new type of neuron which might play a vital role in humans’ ability to navigate their environments. The discovery is an important step towards understanding how the brain codes navigation behaviour at larger scales and could potentially open up new treatment strategies for people with impaired topographical orientation like Alzheimer’s patients. The team’s results are published in the latest edition of Nature Communications.

  Every day billions of people across the planet successfully navigate their environments, for example when they go to work or head home. Such journeys generally happen with little conscious effort and rest on the brain’s ability to use overall knowledge of an environment to make estimates of where it finds itself. The ability to make fine grained assessments of location is seated in the hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped structure located in the temporal lobe. Research shows that the precise mechanism for navigation includes hippocampal place cells, which increase or decrease in electrical activity depending on one’s location. However, when making their daily commute, people don’t need very detailed representations of which houses they pass in which order. Instead, they can make due with more course information. Left at the museum and somewhere down the road right again at the supermarket, called topographical orientation.

  Building on current research, the researchers investigated how large scale navigational knowledge is coded within the brain and whether this process indeed occurs in different structures within the temporal lobe. They did this by training rats to perform a visually guided task in a figure-8 maze consisting of two loops that overlap in the middle lane. During the experiment, the researchers measured electrical activity in the brain by using a novel instrument which allowed the researchers to simultaneously record groups of neurons from four different areas. They recorded from the perirhinal cortex, hippocampus and two sensory areas. Recordings from the perirhinal cortex revealed sustained activity patterns. The level of electrical activity clearly rose and fell depending on the segment the rats were in and persisted throughout that entire segment.

  ‘We found a pronounced difference between the responses in the perirhinal cortex and responses in other areas of the brain’, says Jeroen Bos, lead author and researcher at the UvA’s Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences. ‘Units from the perirhinal cortex had sustained responses throughout the whole loop. By contrast, responses from hippocampal place cells were scattered across the maze and their fields were much smaller than the loops of the maze. We were surprised to see the perirhinal cortex’s responses align so closely with the layout of the maze, primarily because the region is commonly associated with object recognition. This seems to be a new type of neuron, which we have informally dubbed the ‘neighbourhood cell’. This neuron seems to enable the brain to specifically differentiate between distinct segments (“neighbourhoods”) of the environment.’

  The team’s results offer a first glimpse on how the brain is able to code navigation behaviour at larger scales and could be especially relevant for people with an impaired capacity for topographical orientation. The large scale of perirhinal coding contrasts with the finer scale of hippocampal coding. ‘It is known that patients with Alzheimer’s disease or with damage to the temporal lobe have great difficulty finding their way, especially to remote goal locations’, says fellow researcher and professor of Cognitive Systems and Neuroscience Cyriel Pennartz. ‘Albeit new, our findings don’t conflict with previous literature on this phenomenon, for example such as the long-time London cab driver who sustained hippocampal damage. Although the driver could still navigate through the city, he remained highly dependent on main roads and would frequently get lost when using side streets. It might be that he was using the perirhinal cortex for global orientation but could no longer make use of the fine-grained place fields normally found in the hippocampus.’

  In addition to offering new insights into brain mechanisms for spatial navigation at different scales, the results may guide patients with Alzheimer’s or other diseases in using other spatial strategies than the ones most severely affected. The findings point to the perirhinal cortex as a target for treatment. Finally, research on neural replacement devices and assistive robots may benefit from this study.

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