Lockheed Martin Unveils Mach 6 Spy Plane

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Official Lockheed Martin Photo

Step into the future with me, won’t you? Lockheed Martin has just unveiled the hypersonic aircraft to take part in service.

To put this into perspective: Lockheed’s last aircraft, the SR-71 Blackbird, could reach speeds three times the speed of sound. The Blackbird was the fastest aircraft in the world.

The newest Lockheed Martin creation, the SR-72 ‘Son of Blackbird’, will be twice as fast — that’s Mach 6 for those that are wondering.

An Unmanned Spy Plane

Lockheed is still in the process of creating the SR-72 aircraft, but the company envisions this plane as being completely unmanned. This aircraft will also be considered a warplane, which means that it may have missiles on board. These missiles would be extremely accurately guided weapons that work in conjunction with Lockheed’s own GPS software.

A recent press release by the Lockheed staff lets us in on just how mind-blowing this new spy plane will really be:

“…Hypersonic aircraft, coupled with hypersonic missiles, could penetrate denied airspace and strike at nearly any location across a continent in less than an hour…” the release reads.

That means that this spy plane can dart in and out of restricted airspace largely undetected, launch a few high-targeted missiles, and return to its launching base. Don’t forget, too, that there won’t be any military presence onboard this unmanned aircraft.

Is your mind blown yet?

Incredibly Accurate GPS Technology

Connecting GPS trackers with spy planes isn’t something that most of us do regularly, but the military uses GPS technology around-the-clock for a number of different purposes. The latest spy plane from Lockheed simply pushes the envelope where unmanned planes, GPS tracking, and speed is concerned. This aircraft looks really cool too.

Lockheed expects the plane to be ready to fly by 2030. That sounds like a long time from now, but there’s also the possibility that the company could produce the plane prior to that estimated date.

That’s what’s happening in the world of aircraft and GPS today – pretty amazing, right?

If you’re looking into tracking something other than a spy plane, check out what we have to offer on our site. We have a GPS tracker for nearly every situation, so don’t be shy – let us know what you’re looking for.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Soon to be Standard

ADAS_sytems_volvoIn 2006, Toyota introduced something called the ‘Driver Monitoring System (DMS).’ The system was built to monitor drivers (as the name suggests) with safety being a top concern. As the years progressed, DMS became more refined and morphed into becoming part of ‘Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)’, and now it’s something that Volvo, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz are taking very seriously.

What ADAS Does

Essentially, ADAS systems incorporate a number of safety features into a vehicle. Features such as GPS trackers, lane departure warnings, driver mirror assistance, and an infrared LED camera into a car’s dashboard. Why a camera?

This camera monitors driver habits, and it sends out a flashing (or other) alert when drivers are not paying attention for whatever reason. These alerts aim to make the roads safer by keeping drivers tuned into what’s happening while driving.

Many different European car manufacturers offer DMS systems as a standard feature in models released in Europe. But now Ford is starting to offer ADAS as an optional feature in North American vehicles as well.

Why ADAS Is Important

How often do you see distracted drivers on the road? Have you ever seen someone drifting over a lane line or swerving in and out of lanes? This happens for a number of reasons, but one really good reason is that most drivers just aren’t aware of what’s happening. Some drivers are lost and looking at GPS devices and other drivers are simply not paying attention.

Integrating things like GPS tracking software and driver alert features into cars is something that car manufacturers are starting to support, and it’s also something that insurance companies and drivers alike are asking for. Right now, these systems are slowly trickling down to North America, but you’re going to see a lot more cars with ADAS systems in the very near future.

Soon ADAS Will Be Standard

It has been reported by press that both Volvo and Mercedes-Benz will be offering ADAS systems as a standard feature on most upcoming models. More interestingly, these systems won’t be reserved for luxury brands in the coming year. As mentioned, Ford will also be offering ADAS systems in some 2013 models.

GPS tracking technology on its own makes for a safer all-around ride. When you combine that technology with alert systems, the total package is ADAS – and that’s something that will keep drivers safe in almost every circumstance.

It’s also a really good idea to track your fleet with GPS software. This way, you can tell if a driver veers off-course. If you need some help selecting a GPS tracking device for your personal vehicle or for your fleet, just ask us. We have a number of GPS trackers that will fit your needs.

What do you think about ADAS systems? Is this something that you’d like to pay for, or should these features come standard withe ever car sold?

Is NextGen a Bust?

gps_next_genThe government claimed it was the future of air travel. NextGen was touted as the absolute ideal way to fly. It was meant to overhaul the nation’s aviation system – a move from typical ground control to satellite and GPS tracker-based air traffic control. It was also meant to lessen the environmental impact that planes have.

But, how is the $40 billion NextGen project working out?

The Real Cost

According to an internal FAA report, the actual cost of NextGen is 3X higher than was originally quoted. And as far as the completion date goes, well, that’s not going to be in sight for another ten years. What went wrong?

The project keeps getting larger in terms of current technological development.

What NextGen Addresses

What’s not to love about the concept of NextGen? Who doesn’t want to improve the flying experience? Frequent travelers everywhere are hoping the government gets this right, and the program does what they say it will.

  • It is estimated three times as many planes can fly the friendly skies when all is said and done.
  • Less fuel is used due to more direct routes.
  • Routes become more efficient.
  • Planes rely on GPS trackers to get from point A to point B, instead of relying on ground control stations.
  • The GPS trackers will broadcast their position not only to ground control, but to other planes as well. Now, the other pilots can see where exactly their plane is in relation to the other planes in the sky at that time.

These are some pretty big developments. But with big developments come problems.

The Issues

Today, it seems that the need for more planes in the skies to accommodate the predicted influx of passengers has diminished. The FAA had initially predicted 1 billion passengers by 2014, but now they have changed that to 2027.

This could be related to the fact that airports across the nation experience quite a bit of congestion. According to the FAA, another reason this figure has changed is because takeoffs and landings are down 26 percent from 2000.

Although they promised a smooth implementation of the program, it has been anything but. The new landing procedures they spelled out were actually not possible for some planes. The GPS trackers they used had glitches in the software, leading to planes being improperly identified. Oops!

All of these problems have led to airlines hesitating before jumping on board with the installation of the NextGen system in airplanes.

Budgetary Woes

The big issue for lawmakers is the cost, amidst numerous budget cuts. Since the system is technically not slated for mandatory use right now, lawmakers are quick to put this program on the back burner. However, an advisory committee has recommended the FAA focus on 11 of the 150 initiatives the program plans to implement. These 11 initiatives are the closest to being ready.

If the new procedures are implemented, it could boost the economy while at the same time lessening the impact of air travel on the environment. How much less? It is estimated the more direct routes will lead to a reduction of emissions by 24,250 tons.

That’s like 4,100 people choosing to bike to work!

There are significant benefits to the NextGen program. Hopefully, the FAA can figure out a way to implement it in the best way possible — instead of nixing the idea altogether.

Thieves Steal Large Amounts of Oxycontin – Laced With GPS Trackers!

thieves_pills_gpsPolice all over the world are using GPS trackers to nab all different types of criminals. Whether they’re after crooks that steal copper or smartphones and tablets, there’s a tracker for that!

But here’s a new idea implemented by police forces all over the United States: the pill bottle tracker. Wait – why would police want to track a pill bottle? There’s a good reason! Really!

The Issue

Prescription drug addiction is a big problem all over the United States, and it’s only getting worse. The CDC states that death due to drug overdose rates since 1990 have more than tripled, and that 100 people are the victim of drug overdoses each and every day.

Pills are easy for people to steal, too – especially when it comes to teens. Teens can usually find what they’re looking for in a medicine cabinet. But, when pills aren’t plentiful, theft is the next best option.

Solution: GPS Trackers

Police from many areas of the country have relied on GPS trackers concealed in a pill bottle to capture thieves who’ll stop at nothing to get a certain type of drug.

Most recently, the Detroit police captured four men in connection with a string of pharmacy robberies. What was the drug of choice? OxyContin. The men were seen exiting a pharmacy while police were patrolling the area (following reports of burglaries at two separate pharmacies). When the robbers saw police lights, they took off in two different vehicles.

After a high speed chase, police lost track of the thieves – but not really.

The thieves didn’t realize the oxycontin prescription they stole contained a small GPS tracker. Oops! You guessed it! Police hunted down the thieves in minutes.

How It Works

Pharmacies stock decoy pill bottles that only contain GPS trackers next to bottles containing real pills. When a thief demands drugs, the pharmacist hands over multiple bottles, one of them being the GPS tracker bottle. As soon as the tracking pill bottle is taken off the shelf, it begins to track. How is that possible? It rests in a base unit that senses when the bottle is removed! Amazing, right?

But wait, won’t the crook know immediately that something is amiss if he picks up that empty pill bottle? Not at all! The bottle is weighted, and when you shake it, it makes the familiar rattling sound a thief is looking for. Clever!

Purdue Pharma, the pharmaceutical company responsible for producing OxyContin, developed the technology along with the NYPD. Police want to capture the thieves, but the real hope is that people will end their addiction to prescription pills altogether.

This technology is effective, and will hopefully spread throughout the US. What do you think about this revolutionary technology?

 

Photo By Charles Williams via Flickr Creative Commons

GPS Leads Feds To Drug Trafficking Operation

heavenly_transport_drugsDrug trafficking is a big problem in the U.S. Whether drugs are coming from Canada or Mexico, many drug cartels are coming up with ways to sneak their goods across borders undetected.

In 2005, a tunnel was discovered from Canada to the US. A thrown-together hut covered the entrance on the Canadian side, with the other end emerging into a living room inside of a residence in the U.S.

Tunnels have been attempted in Mexico as well, like last year’s that started in Mexico and ended up in Arizona. But the process of building a tunnel to smuggle drugs can be quite costly, not to mention dangerous. It’s safe to say this method is not for everyone!

The Old Fashioned Way

Others prefer to rely on the old fashioned smuggling method: a vehicle. Over the weekend, a trucking company owner was arrested for doing just that, caught in an unexpected way. How? The GPS tracker that was attached to his truck, of course!

Javier Casas, owner of Heavenly Transport, was arrested on October 25th for knowingly sending his employees to transport shipments of marijuana all over the northern United States.

How They Caught Him

Homeland Security was on the job after they stopped one of Heavenly Transport’s employees, Mathew Luna, for a routine border patrol check at the Falfurrias Border Patrol checkpoint. The truck was supposed to be carrying a load of office furniture to Kentwood, Michigan, but the officers quickly discovered roughly 400 pounds of marijuana contained inside of duffel bags hidden throughout the harmless cargo.

During questioning by US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Luna broke down and spilled the details. He gave the names of both Casas and his sister as the owners of the truck, as well as the address Luna picked the truck up all loaded, which just happened to be a ranch belonging to both Casas and his sister.

Did He Know What He Was Carrying?

Most definitely. He told Immigration and Customs officers that the load was supposed to be office furniture, but Casas had asked him to take the duffel bags full of drugs along as well. He added that he did not know what drugs were contained in the bag, that Casas did not specify, and Luna didn’t inquire.

Apparently the final destination for the drugs wasn’t Michigan, just the office furniture. Casas asked Luna to meet up with him in Austin to unload the duffel bags, and then transport the furniture to its final destination in Kentwood. Casas promised Luna $2,500 for that trek. He’d done this type of deed for Casas before, and has made as much as $7,000 for a single trip.

The Final Nail In The Coffin

Authorities had enough incriminating evidence to justify affixing a GPS tracker to the tractor trailer truck. After a time, the GPS tracker sent an alert to Homeland Security Investigations: the truck was on the move. It ended up at Casas’ ranch, and they were able to move in and catch him in the act.

He was arrested thanks to the GPS tracker, and charged with drug possession and conspiracy. He is being held without bail and is due to face a judge at some point this week.

There is no doubt about it: a GPS tracking device is an essential tool for law enforcement! Need to track a truck that’s part of your fleet? Check out our selection!

GPS and Taxes

taxes_gpsIt seems that a new use for tracking with GPS comes out more and more frequently. What can’t this technology do? It’s saving wildlife, helping bust criminals, keeping employees honest, and now, helping municipalities calculate…taxes? Yes, you read that right. Taxes.

In Oregon, officials are trying to create a way to tax drivers. Why? The state wants to place a tax on mileage instead of on fule purchases. See a problem with this? You aren’t the only one!

It’s Happening Anyway

Regardless of how people feel about the program, officials are expecting it to begin in 2015. It is the result of a bill recently signed into law, and, for now, it will be implemented on a volunteer basis. But why is this new method of tax collection necessary? It all stems from the fact that people are driving less and less in order to save on the amount they are spending at the pump. While the amount of gas being sold is going down, highway repair and construction costs are rising.

Oregon’s ‘Highway Trust Fund’ has turned to the federal government to request a congressional bailout four times since 2009. The gas tax hasn’t gone up in the past 20 years, so with rising costs for road maintenance, there is a need to find an alternate source of funding. Enter the GPS tracker tax. Breathing a sigh of relief that you aren’t living in Oregon? There’s no doubt that other states will soon follow suit if the Oregon tax works out!

Instead of collecting a $.30 cents per gallon state tax, drivers will pay $1.5 cents for each mile they travel.

What About Privacy?

Civil libertarians and economists alike point to the fact these mileage GPS trackers will be monitoring vehicles at all times, recording every mile traveled. If trackers are simply connected to computers within a vehicle, life is good. If location data is stored regularly, that’s a different kind of problem – one that borders on privacy issues. For obvious reasons, many drives in Oregon are nervous about the amount of information that the government will soon have – and this may extend to other states.

Who Pays?

There’s another issue with the new Oregon driver tracking program: who’s going to cover the GPS tracking expenses? This dilemma hasn’t been worked out yet. It’s highly likely that the state will ask those participating in the program to purchase equipment – but, then, wouldn’t the tracking data belong to the person that owns the equipment? That’s a tricky situation!

The other option for the state is to simply purchase GPS tracking devices and hand these out to everyone that wants to participate in the program. But, can the state afford this much cost? It doesn’t seem likely, but that’s a problem that the state of Oregon is trying to work out.

Clearly, this program hasn’t been thought through completely. What are your thoughts? How would you feel about your state implementing such a program? What if this program becomes mandatory? Let us know what you think – and don’t forget to check out our own trackers while you’re here!

Amtrak Is Now Using GPS – Much to Traveler Delight!

amtrak_gps_newsIf you rely on Amtrak trains to get you to work, business meetings, or the latest theater production in a nearby city, you’ll love the newest offering that brings the power of Google Maps to the mix. Amtrak has announced a handy interactive map that shows riders in real time where any train is at any point in time, all over the US.

All 300 of the company’s trains will be displayed on the map, along with the estimated arrival time at any station stops – and it’s all made possible by the GPS trackers installed on the trains!

How It Works

Amtrak has embedded sensors directly onto the train tracks, and each time a train passes by the sensors, the GPS location data is transmitted to the GPS tracker on board each train. The GPS tracker then relays the location data to the Google Maps Engine as well as station data from Amtrak’s own content management system.

This allows riders to either look for a specific train by name or train number on the application via tablet, smartphone, or desktop. Prior to the addition of the GPS trackers, the only data riders could receive about the trains was a list of estimated arrival times and the status of each train (whether they were running late or not.) This will step up Amtrak’s game, bringing riders an accurate picture of what time they need to be at the station to catch the train.

Amtrak is putting the cloud to use, as that is where Google stores the map data provided by the GPS trackers. The creative director of Amtrak’s e-commerce, Steve Alexander, spoke about the partnership with Google on Google’s Official Enterprise Blog, calling their cloud platform “reliable.”

Value For Customers

This is a victory for anyone choosing to ride one of Amtrak’s trains. The ‘Google Enterprise Blog’ states that the second most common activity on the Amtrak website is checking the status of trains, with purchasing tickets coming in first. It makes sense, kind of like checking on the status of a flight prior to leaving for the airport. You don’t want to arrive at the station only to find your train is delayed by an hour. It also provides an opportunity to give your boss a more definitive answer when he asks when you expect to arrive to the big meeting.

You can head to the Amtrak train locator to view all trains across the US and their location. Hovering the mouse over one of the trains on the map produces a slick pop up window that displays the status of the train (is it early, is it late, when will it arrive to the next station.)

The Power Of The Cloud

Relying on the Google Maps Engine means Amtrak doesn’t need to expend additional funds to cover the expense of storing all of that real time data being pushed from the GPS trackers on board their trains. All Amtrak’s e-commerce team needs to worry about is making easy to read maps that customers will be able to follow.

And who knows what these maps will provide customers in the future. The blog post points out they’re already seeing the potential of the maps in other areas such as local transit data, tourist attractions along the train routes, and restaurants. Amtrak aims to please customers, and hope they appreciate the added value of so much useful information. It will make them a one-stop travel shop of sorts, and they’re betting this entices more customers to ride with them.

Do you rely on Amtrak? What do you think about this new service?

Warrantless GPS Tracking Case Decided

Third Circuit_GPS_TrackingYesterday was a big day for the world of GPS tracking and law enforcement. In Philadelphia, PA, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decided the very first case addressing warrantless tracking since the Supreme Court’s split decision last year.

Miss the story last year? Well, it’s pretty simple. The Supreme Court ruled that affixing a GPS tracker on a suspected drug dealer’s vehicle was an obvious intrusion of privacy, but could not agree that a warrant was actually required. The evidence collected with the GPS tracker had to be thrown out, prompting a second trial for Antoine Jones, the drug dealer. The funny part is they actually did obtain a warrant at one point to affix the GPS tracker, but did so after the warrant had expired. Oh, and they put it on his wife’s vehicle. A lot of issues there!

The New Case

In the more recent case, Harry Katzin, an electrician, had a GPS tracker installed on his van after police believed he and his brothers were responsible for numerous pharmacy burglaries in Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland in 2009 and 2010. Lawyers for the Justice Department felt that the police were going a bit too far in the case against Katzin. All they had was “reasonable suspicion,” which isn’t even enough to procure a warrant, so why should they be allowed to track his whereabouts with a GPS tracker, lawyers argued.

Judge Joseph A. Greenway, Jr. agreed, pointing out in the majority ruling that without probable cause, law enforcement was ignoring important privacy and private property laws that make the US tick. He went on to say that he does agree with GPS tracking in certain cases, under certain circumstances that simply were “not present in this case,” even without obtaining a warrant prior to its placement.

The Katzin Case

So what exactly happened? The FBI decided to place a GPS tracker on Katzin’s van back in December of 2010. They noted the van leaving Philly and followed it to a Rite Aid in the next town over. After the van left the Rite Aid parking lot, State Troopers pulled the van over and discovered items taken from the store. They arrested Katzin and his two brothers who happened to be traveling along with him.

With the Appeals Court’s ruling, they don’t have a case anymore. Any information gathered with the help of the GPS device becomes inadmissible. Now, the three men are able to walk free after robbing a pharmacy with the intent to distribute the stolen drugs. That’s a dangerous fact.

Just to be clear here: you can still affix a GPS tracker to any vehicle that you own. If you own a fleet of trucks, for example, any one of our fleet trackers will prove to be worthwhile. You just can’t place a tracker on a vehicle that you don’t own.

For obvious reasons, most people are torn over this case. Do you agree with the outcome of this case? Or do you feel that, sometimes, warrantless tracking is indeed the right choice?

The ‘Get Real Money Team’ Gest Busted With GPS

getrealmoney_gang_gpsRetail crime happens every day. From shoplifting to bigger theft rings, retail is a criminal’s playground – until GPS trackers came along, that is. Police in Georgia just arrested a team of 5 women that called themselves the ‘Get Money Team.’ This team of thieves worked in retail outlets, gathered orders, sold good from the backs of vans, and even violently beat a cashier.

Even though police had pinpointed the five gang members long ago, additional proof was needed in order to send these criminals to jail. So, authorities decided to use GPS tracking devices to tail each gang member. Based on daily activities, police were able to ascertain that the five women were, in fact, part of the ‘Get Money Team.’

Busted!

Police can now use GPS tracking device to follow the movements of gang members. In most states, a warrant is not needed in order to track a vehicle with a GPS device. The women that were part of this gang had no idea that police were tailing them, and police didn’t even need to follow vehicles closely in order to paint the whole picture.

Thanks to GPS software, it’s entirely possible to see the movements of any vehicle from a smartphone, tablet, or through a desktop email program – you don’t even have to leave home to see where the person you’re tracking is headed! That’s some pretty impressive equipment, and it’s the best way to track down a thief, it seems.

What’s Next For Gang Members?

The members of the ‘Get Money Team’ will all face various counts in front of a judge. Some team members are also being charged with assault and an attempt to use counterfeit $20 bills. Without the help of GPS trackers, police would not have been able to follow gang members throughout each retail expedition.

To some, police should require a warrant in order to attach a GPS tracking unit to a car. For others, suspected criminals should be tracked until proven guilty or otherwise. If, on the other hand, you do own a fleet of vehicles, you can track those cars or trucks freely with a GPS tracking device – and that’s where we come in.

Our Trackers

At Alpha GPS Tracking, we have a number of fleet tracking devices that were designed to follow each move a drive in your company makes. While it’s not advisable to track someone randomly, you can track anyone that’s driving a vehicle you own – you just have to tell them first.

Need a GPS fleet tracker? Contact us today, or check out what we have to offer on our website. As for the girls that were part of the ‘Get Money Team,’ they’ve all been busted, arrested, and are now facing trial. In short: be aware that police only need a small GPS tracker to find out what you’re up to!

Are Authorities Tracking Your EZ Pass?

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Did you hear the news back in September about a man whose EZ Pass transponder, which he hacked into in order to set an alert every time the device was accessed, was being read in places nowhere near a toll? Well if you didn’t, it actually happened. He even caught the moment the device was accessed on camera, posting it to YouTube.

EZ Pass officials responded, claiming that the ID associated with the tag — which would identify your personal information — is scrambled in order to protect your privacy. What’s more, each time your device is read, officials say that the data is only stored for a few minutes, deleted after matching up the data of the last read.

The Problem

It highlights the main concern people have with devices such as this one: Big Brother is watching. And it’s not just EZ pass transponders that are being monitored. The Daily Telegraph has reported that the Highways Agency in the UK is also keeping an eye on its drivers by accessing various devices like GPS trackers and cell phones in order to keep an eye on traffic patterns to figure out how to alleviate congestion.

The government says the information is all anonymous, sent to them by mobile phone service providers and other agencies that collect GPS location data. Regardless of whether or not people remain anonymous, the problem lies in the fact they have no clue the data is even being used in this fashion.

It Doesn’t Stop There

The article goes on to disclose retail stores are also using location data extracted from GPS trackers in smartphones connected to the mall’s Wi-Fi connection. In this case, they are looking to see which stores shoppers visit and how long they’re there for.

And again, shoppers haven’t the slightest clue their movements throughout the mall are being watched. Shouldn’t there be some form of disclosure? Shouldn’t shoppers know that by signing on to the mall’s Wi-Fi connection they might be subject to this monitoring?

The Test

The Highways Agency is testing out the idea, gathering location data from both smartphones and GPS trackers in vehicles, in two trials. One trial involves what they call “historic” data, basically data gathered prior to the point they are actually accessing it, to analyze traffic patterns. The second trial is “real time,” gathering actual location data that will allegedly help motorists get around accidents and other traffic woes.

The historic data is gathered from cell phone service providers, who provide the Highways Agency with the specific time a vehicle with a GPS tracker or smartphone enters a certain area. The real-time data gathered comes straight from the GPS trackers and smartphone apps themselves.

A New Age

Traffic is known to be a big problem in the UK, and it’s only going to get worse according to analysts with the Department of Transport — a 19 percent increase by 2025. This is a radical new way to manage traffic, but is it the right way? That’s a question that authorities are going to have to answer soon.

There are ethical ways to track vehicles, though, and you can track any vehicle that’s company property – so keep that in mind. And keep us in mind when it comes to finding the right GPS tracker for your fleet!