Source: China Satellite Navigation Office, Ministry of Transportation CHINA DAILY
In ancient times, our ancestors relied on stars to guide them on a clear night. Today, we have navigational systems to help us find our way, with the latest being the Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS).
The BDS is entirely built by Chinese engineers. With the launch of the last satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on June 23, the global network of 59 satellites has been completed. On July 31, Beidou started providing full-scale global services. It’s difficult to imagine the great impact those satellites, orbiting the Earth, have on our daily lives.
When you unlock one of Hellobike’s bicycles, you are using the BDS. The popular bike-sharing company came out with two new bike models this year that are equipped with the positioning service. “The intelligent lock on each bike receives Beidou satellite signals and sends positioning information to the data center, which will help collect big data on the bikes and estimate users’ riding demands in advance according to the data,” Chu Yiqun, a manager of Hellobike told Xinhua News Agency. Users can also find shared bikes more accurately thanks to Beidou’s global positioning accuracy of 2.34 meters.
However, the BDS doesn’t just work one way. As the country’s largest space-based system and one of four global navigation networks, along with the United States’ GPS, Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo, Beidou adopts a unique two-way communication system, including its ability to receive messages sent by people from areas with poor communication signals. Obviously, this exclusive function isn’t designed for users to chat online. Instead, it plays a role when disasters occur and communications are blocked.
After the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, all ground-based communication facilities were interrupted. Though the first generation of Beidou could only send 120 characters in a single message at that time, communication between affected areas and rescue centers was successful. Now, Beidou’s messaging capacity has been increased to 1,200 Chinese characters in a single message. It is widely used in disaster alarms, automatic identification and information release.
As Sun Jiadong, former chief designer of the BDS said: “The application of Beidou is only limited by imagination.”