GPS, Today & Tomorrow

A lot of technology comes into general use after being developed or applied for military purposes. GPS is one of these.

I finally got an in-car GPS yesterday. A bit behind the times, I know. I had been making do with OpenStreetMaps on my N800. Yesterday morning while trying to find a customer in an unfamiliar area, with one eye on the road, one eye on a tailgater, one eye on the street signs and one eye on the PDA (and I don’t even wear glasses!) I finally decided I might try a GPS.

At the end of the day most roads in the region were clogged due to a surplus of accidents. The traffic helicopter lady sounded quite overwhelmed and it seemed unlikely that I could get home from where I was. So, I went shopping instead.

Bought a GPS. Should have bought a GPS a long time ago. It can tell me where the nearest Tim Horton’s is and guide me right to it! Most important — I can keep my eyes on the road while it tells me where and which way to turn.

Occasional glances at the screen show me what to expect ahead along with time, ETA, direction, speed, etc, etc. I found that I do like the 3D view better than the 2D view.. After a couple of hours though it occurred to me that a bit more military developed hardware could enhance the GPS.

Drones. A GPS should have an available personal drone aircraft.

The drone could fly over my vehicle and give a birds-eye view of the traffic around me. Particular hazards, such as erratic drivers, could be highlighted in yellow. Animals or pedestrians poised to enter the roadway ahead could be highlighted in orange. Approaching emergency vehicles could be highlighted in red and maybe flash as they get close in case their siren is not heard. Maybe the drone could have a spotlight to deploy when approaching dark-haired, dark-clothed, helmetless, lightless cyclists on dark roads at night. (Do those cyclists not think that being seen is prerequisite to not being hit?)

A driver’s space on the road would grow to include the airspace overhead, and the sky above busy roads would become pretty busy. Drones would have to be able to hover over traffic jams. If each drone remained over it’s associated vehicle though, there should be no (or few) mid-air collisions. Some autonomous obstacle avoidance would be necessary of course, lest trolley wires become the robotic equivalent of bug zappers. With all the military and law enforcement experience with drones in recent years we should be able to adapt drones to civilian use without too much trouble.

I love my new GPS, but I look forward to the drone upgrade.

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