Russia is hoping to beat the US again - it's going to launch a fleet of satellites into orbit as it attempts to become the world leader in GPS navigation. The Russian Institute of Radionavigation and Time in St Petersburg is preparing to launch eight navigation satellites by the end of the year.

The system, called the Global Navigation Satellite System (Glonass), is expected to cover all of Russia and parts of Europe and Asia to begin with, then the rest of the world by 2009, The New York Times reports.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, the US military has announced that it's developing a Global Positioning System (GPS) which will allow its troops to map and navigate inside buildings.

It's a collaboration between the US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) and contractor L-3 Communications - Interstate Electronics Corporation. The US military believes urban warfare will see its troops fighting in high-rise buildings, rescuing hostages or looking for terrorists.

"Current navigation technologies rely heavily on GPS," said Richard Carter, science and technology advisor for USJFCOM. "This is a hybrid that co-operates with GPS but has its own embedding capability, which allows you to maintain accurate navigation as well as location information in a GPS-deprived environment."

According to USJFCOM, a "GPS-deprived environment" is a town or city with little or no satellite navigation coverage.