New research in California suggests that GPS could be improved to pinpoint location within one centimetre, rather than the ten-or-so metres it currently manages.
ScienceAlert.com reports that this could be a major step forward for autonomous vehicles.
“To fulfil both the automation and safety needs of driverless cars, some applications need to know not only which lane a car is in, but also where it is in that lane – and need to know it continuously at high rates and high bandwidth for the duration of the trip,” lead researcher Jay Farrell, from the University of California, Riverside told the site.
An improved system has been developed known as differential GPS (DGPS), which brings the accuracy down to 1 metre thanks to the use of ground-based reference stations. But to get maximum accuracy the site says Farrell and his team developed a new technique that supplements existing GPS data with on-board inertial measurements from a sensor. It uses algorithms which reduce the computations and processing power needed to integrate the two systems by several orders of magnitude, making the technology a whole lot more affordable and meaning we could soon see this centimetre-level GPS used in our personal devices.
“Achieving this level of accuracy with computational loads that are suitable for real-time applications on low-power processors will not only advance the capabilities of highly specialised navigation systems, like those used in driverless cars and precision agriculture,” Farrell added, “but it will also improve location services accessed through mobile phones and other personal devices, without increasing their cost.”