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Surprising Science

New System Pinpoints Car Locations To 2 Meters

Developed by a Spanish team, it combines conventional GPS with additional sensors. The increased accuracy makes it ideal for driverless cars of the future.

What’s the Latest Development?

Researchers at Carlos III University in Madrid have designed a satellite navigation system that combines GPS with gyroscopes and accelerometers to enable equipped cars to be located to within 2 meters in cities. According to the team, it can be installed in any car for little cost and, compared to conventional sat-nav, it “improve[s] the determination of a vehicle’s position in critical cases by between 50 and 90 [percent].” 

What’s the Big Idea?

Driverless cars — which are currently being developed by Google among other companies — would greatly benefit from a highly-accurate sat-nav system. The margin of error with conventional GPS alone ranges from about 15 meters in an open field to over 50 meters in cities and in some cases the signal is completely lost. The research team’s next goal is to create a system that can work with smartphones, many of which already contain gyroscopes and accelerometers along with several other useful sensors, as well as different forms of wireless communication. Researcher Enrique Marti says this new system “[would] obtain the same result…but at an even much lower cost, since it is something that almost everyone can carry around in their pocket.”

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Read it at BBC News


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