China is replacing GPS in the country with its own version called Beidou

China is building a £7 billion ($9 billion) global navigation system to rival and eventually replace GPS in the country. 

The alternative system, called Beidou, is currently being developed by the Asian superpower as the nation hopes to lessen its dependence on US tech. 

Beidou is the Chinese name for the famed star constellation known in many other cultures as the ‘Big Dipper’.  

Escalating tensions between the two superpowers has made officials increasingly uncomfortable with the reliance on the US-owned GPS.   

It is set to be implemented in a wide variety of systems including smartphones, autonomous cars, planes and ships.

Beidou is currently operational in China and neighboring regions and will be globally available by 2020, the country claims. 

Analysts have said the endeavor is one of China’s more ambitious undertakings; a remarkable feat for a nation also working towards conquering commercial space flight, cheap energy via an ‘artificial sun’ and a man-made moon.

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China is building a £7 billion ($9 billion) global navigation system to rival GPS. Analysts have said the endeavor is one of China's more ambitious undertakings in the pursuit of space success. This year, the first Chinese-built rocket taking a satellite to space failed (pictured)

China is building a £7 billion ($9 billion) global navigation system to rival GPS. Analysts have said the endeavor is one of China’s more ambitious undertakings in the pursuit of space success. This year, the first Chinese-built rocket taking a satellite to space failed (pictured)

‘They don’t want to depend on the US’s GPS,’ Marshall Kaplan, a professor in the aerospace engineering department at the University of Maryland, told Bloomberg Quint

‘The Chinese don’t want to be subject to something that we can shut off.’   

China started developing Beidou in the 90s and the total bill is expected to reach an estimated $8.98 billion to $10.6 billion by 2020.

That is the prediction of a 2017 analysis by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

This year the project has achieved major milestones as it launched 18 satellites, taking the total in operation to more than 40.

A further 11 are expected to be launched before the 2020 global roll-out. 

President Xi Jinping has aspirations of transforming China into a global leader for emerging technologies and is relentlessly pursuing several avenues in the field of space exploration.

Beidou will likely have the most far-reaching implications for governments, companies and consumers 

The secondary global navigation system will require the manufacture and installation of unique infrastructure, materials, components and software.

A shift away from the US monopoly on the field and the introduction of a competitor is forcing the industry to embrace the imminent change.

As China prepares to eradicate traces of GPS in the country, firms are scrabbling to make devices Beidou compatible for the 2020 switch-over. 

Beijing-based NavInfo, which supplies Tesla BMW, hopes to begin mass producing semiconductors for Beidou navigation in the next two years, according to Wang Yan, a project director.

It is expecting demand of up to 15 million Beidou-compatible chips a year for autonomous vehicles alone. 

The firm began providing Beidou-enabled mapping and positioning services for the Singapore government in September.  

Beidou is currently operational in China and neighboring regions and will be globally available by 2020, the country claims. It is set to be implemented in a wide variety of systems including smartphones, autonomous cars, ships and planes - including the J-20 fighter (pictured)

Beidou is currently operational in China and neighboring regions and will be globally available by 2020, the country claims. It is set to be implemented in a wide variety of systems including smartphones, autonomous cars, ships and planes - including the J-20 fighter (pictured)

Beidou is currently operational in China and neighboring regions and will be globally available by 2020, the country claims. It is set to be implemented in a wide variety of systems including smartphones, autonomous cars, ships and planes – including the J-20 fighter (pictured)

WHAT IS BEIDOU? 

Beidou is the Chinese name for the famed star constellation known in many other cultures as the ‘Big Dipper’.

It is also the adopted name of a satellite system developed by china to provide global location information.

The GPS rival has been built since the 1990s by the Chinese government to lessen the dependence of the Asian superpower on US-technology. 

Beidou is the Chinese name for the famed star constellation known in many other cultures as the 'Big Dipper' (pictured)

Beidou is the Chinese name for the famed star constellation known in many other cultures as the 'Big Dipper' (pictured)

Beidou is the Chinese name for the famed star constellation known in many other cultures as the ‘Big Dipper’ (pictured)

The US Air Force owns and operates GPS and the implementation of Beidou will allow the country to operate their own system.

It is currently operational in China and neighboring regions and is expected to be live around the world in 2020.

It is set to be implemented in a wide variety of systems including smartphones, autonomous cars, planes and ships. 

This year the project has achieved major milestones as it launched 18 satellites this year, taking the total in operation to more than 40.

A further 11 are expected to be launched before the 2020 global roll-out. 

‘China needs to have its own satellite navigation system from a long-term, strategic perspective,’ Mr Wang said. ‘Beidou is the only option.’

China is the world’s largest and most lucrative largest auto market and the government wants all cars to be using Beidou by 2020. 

German giant Volkswagen is preparing for the changing of the guard and modifying its equipment ahead of time to allow for Beidou network access.  

‘At the moment, Volkswagen Group China does not sell cars with Beidou-enabled equipment, but the next infotainment system generation for cars in the Chinese market will be rolled out in 2020,’ the Wolfsburg, Germany-based company said. 

‘This system will be ready to receive Beidou information.’

Toyota, the Japanese car manufacturer, is also in discussions about integrating Beidou with its existing technology. 

Smartphones are another major user of navigation technology and most handsets from Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi support Beidou as well as GPS. 

US-based company Qualcomm is the world leader in the production of smartphone chips and said it has been supporting Beidou ‘for a long time’.

China is using the technology in its planes as and the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, or COMAC, installed the tech last year.

It was became the first plane to use Beidou.

Planes built outside the country currently do not have Beidou but it is believed the nation will require planes flying in China to use the system.


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