BeiDou, the Chinese GPS

For a long time, the American GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) or so-called GPS (Global Positioning System) has been dominating and used all around the world for all aspects of life such as smartphones, connected devices, airplanes or applications like Google Maps, Facebook, etc. But this is no longer the case, or not for a long time. While the European positioning system Galileo is expected to be fully operational by 2020, China has just launched its own BeiDou navigation satellite system.

Recently, China has succeeded its 7th orbital mission of the year by successfully placing on orbit the positioning satellite Compass G8. This satellite is the 20th and last element of the constellation BeiDou-2 (2nd generation). In 2020, the 3rd generation of the Chinese global geolocation network made from 35 satellites will be achieved.

When the navigation services provided by the traditional satellites rarely work in buildings, underground, underwater or in remote places, the deployment of the BDS system composed by BeiDou-1, BeiDou-2, and BeiDou-3 will be able to provide extremely precise positioning and navigation at any time whatever the climatic conditions worldwide. The BDS system will play a major role in many key areas such as smart cities, agriculture, meteorology, autopilot and intelligent transportation.

In addition to that, this technological deployment is also part of a global and international initiative called “The Belt and the Road” aiming to promote global trade in the spirit of the famous and historic Silk Road.

At a time when lots of American companies and technologies are facing fierce competition from its main Chinese rivals, the question we can ask ourselves is: could the famous GPS be replaced or come to an end?