Sat nav failure could 'cause loss of life', says report

This dangerous little device could guide you to your untimely demise, unless you use your common sense
This dangerous little device could guide you to your untimely demise, unless you use your common sense

A report from the Royal Academy of Engineering has released a report which claims that the UK is 'dangerously dependent' on GPS and sat nav devices.

The report also warns that we are at risk from both deliberate and accidental interference, with back up systems ill-equipped to handle such an attack.

Not afraid to steer directly into the sensational, Dr Martyn Thomas, chairman of the Academy's Global Navigation Space Systems (GNSS) working group, said that a GPS system failure could "conceivably cause loss of life".

Can't read a map

It's the rampant availability of the technology that has caused us to become over-dependent on sat navs and mapping services, and their often faulty directions.

As Dr Thomas puts it, "The UK is already dangerously dependent on GPS. GPS and other GNSS are so useful and so cheap to build into equipment that we have become almost blindly reliant on the data they give us.

"A significant failure of GPS could cause lots of services to fail at the same time, including many that are thought to be completely independent of each other.

"Dependency on GPS is growing and jammers are getting easier to obtain. We expect this problem to become more severe."

The real threat, the report states, is when results are "dangerously misleading" – while we'd hope that most UK drivers have the common sense not to attempt to turn left off a cliff, other transport systems are more at risk.

Ships that rely on GNSS, for example, could be steered only slightly off course into dangerous waters, while the dangers for planes are even greater.

Via Press Association

News Editor (UK)

Former UK News Editor for TechRadar, it was a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she was constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. Kate now enjoys life as a renowned music critic – her words can be found in the i Paper, Guardian, GQ, Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and she's also the author of 'Amy Winehouse', a biography of the soul star.