Science

Improved GPS could boost self-driving cars and other tech

Improved GPS could boost self-...
New technology could enable centimeter-accurate GPS in all kinds of devices
New technology could enable centimeter-accurate GPS in all kinds of devices
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New technology could enable centimeter-accurate GPS in all kinds of devices
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New technology could enable centimeter-accurate GPS in all kinds of devices

Researchers have found a better way to crunch the data that GPS-enabled devices use to determine their location. The result could provide a level of accuracy down to the centimeter that's needed in things like autonomous vehicles and other precision tech.

We've seen other efforts to improve GPS location to centimeter-level accuracy using what's called "differential GPS," that makes use of ground-based reference points in addition to satellite GPS data. This latest effort from the University of California - Riverside (UCR) seems similar in that it's basically a software-based approach.

What's perhaps most revolutionary about the advance is not just the improved level of accuracy, but just how efficiently centimeter-accurate positioning is established.

"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 specialized navigation systems – like those used in driverless cars and precision agriculture – but it will also improve location services accessed through mobile phones and other personal devices, without increasing their cost," said UCR professor Jay Farrell, who led the research.

He claims that until now, achieving such accuracy has been computationally expensive, but the new approach returns a highly accurate position with several orders of magnitude fewer computations. That could make this level of GPS more practical in a number of emerging real world applications.

"To fulfill 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," said Farrell.

Two members of the team that conducted the research have since moved on to work at Qualcomm and Google. The research was published recently in IEEE'sTransactions on Control Systems Technology.

Source: University of California-Riverside

4 comments
Mel Tisdale
As anyone who has used a satnav will confirm, GPS is of little use when driving through heavily wooded areas, tunnels, or areas of high-rise buildings. They are of no use when the signal is jammed, so, remarkable as this development is, no autonomous vehicle should rely on GPS without some form of inertial navigation in reserve. (Such devices are remarkably small and according to their adverts - see herein - also remarkably small.)
Mel Tisdale
Sorry, for the second 'small' read 'accurate'
StWils
For a variety of reasons I would prefer to read that GPS systems can and will be hardened against a range of injuries from intentional blinding as a prelude to attack by an adversary to blinding or impairment caused by natural events or atmospheric conditions. And, yes, Mel is correct, there are several kinds of small inertial systems that can be teamed up with GPS, or other systems, to provide high availability, durable,position information. And, no matter what, I still want an awake, attentive driver running things not software.
Stephen N Russell
Need arrays for Urban use & locales alone to work. Install with Google Maps for phones. & or PCs. Ideal for SAR & Rescue, MedEvac alone