Information & Communication

Integrated Navigation Systems

Technical Applications


Navigation systems are good examples of large-scale integrated systems. Each commercial airliner and large seagoing vessel includes a system for this purpose. Many such systems are customized for the particular vessel. In other words, although the individual components may be similar, the whole system is one-of-a-kind. Land-based systems for the command and control of inland waterways are another example.


The greatest change in the past few years in this area has been the increasing use of the global positioning system (GPS) for navigation. By now, even the smallest seagoing vessels rely on a GPS receiver for this purpose, as do increasing numbers of airplanes. GPS use is projected to bring about major changes in the commercial air traffic control system in the next few years, which will require redesign of most of the airline and FAA navigational systems now in use.


Given the specialized nature and the large scale of the systems required for integrated navigation, there are a limited number of enterprises that produce them. Although there are more such enterprises in the U.S. than elsewhere, bidding in this area is very competitive, and organizations in both Japan and Europe have been equally successful in competitions against U.S. firms. For example, Mitsui in Japan has been successfully building maritime navigation systems for many years, and Siemens in Germany has built major control systems for a variety of applications.