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Galileo marries GPS

The battle over satellite-based navigation signals was settled at a medieval castle in Ireland this week. The European Union agreed to make its proposed Galileo system compatible with the U.S. GPS system. The U.S. objected to the Europeans’ proposal to put the Galileo signals on a different frequency band, making it tough to jam them in war zones.

But the Europeans finally agreed to make their system work alongside GPS and the deal was signed at the EU-U.S. Summit at Dromoland Castle, Ireland, Friday. Although pilots will undoubtedly benefit from Galileo, there are much broader plans for the system. Galileo will use 30 satellites compared to GPS’s 15. The result will be greater reliability and better accuracy, which will translate into greater utility. Galileo backers envision trains, planes and automobiles running with varying degrees of autonomy off the space-based signals. They also predict cellphones being used as receivers and say that there will be more than 400 million satellite navigation users by 2015.