A research team has created an alternative positioning system that is much more accurate and robust than GPS. The prototype of this new infrastructure achieves an accuracy of 10 centimeters. It could ensure hyper-precise navigation in urban environments, and contribute to the development of mobile communications and autonomous vehicles.
The results of the study were published in the journal Nature (I link them to you here).
Researchers from three Dutch institutes (Delft University of Technology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and VSL) have taken advantage of mobile telecommunications rather than satellites: this is what makes their system potentially more accurate and reliable than GPS.
“We realized that with some cutting-edge innovations, our telecommunications network can be transformed into a very precise alternative positioning system. And a GPS-independent navigation system,” he says Jeroen Koelemeij of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
An alternative navigation
“Weak” radio signals that rely on satellites can make GPS inaccurate. If radio signals are reflected or blocked by buildings, they can no longer send precise positioning and information.
“This can make GPS unreliable in urban environments, for example, and affect the navigation of autonomous vehicles,” he says Christiaan Tiberius, the project coordinator.
The new system could serve as an optional system and, in the future, as a potential new replacement for GPS.
How “SuperGPS” works
Currently, many people use the GPS (United States) e Galileo (European Union) for navigation, but the use of satellite systems may sometimes prove faulty. The new project launched by the researchers (somewhat ambitiously called “SuperGPS”) adopts an innovative method: it connects the mobile network to an accurate atomic clock, to give a super-regular “rhythm” to the positioning signals. A bit like navigation satellites do today.
The new system also uses radio signals with much higher bandwidth than commonly used software. Since most buildings reflect radio signals, it can often be confusing for your navigation device.
The high bandwidth of our system helps solve these problems.
Gerard Janssen, Delft University of Technology
In summary: we knew the communications of the near future they will be hyper fast. Now we know they will also be hyper precise.