Spanish scientists claim to have significantly improved GPS accuracy

Feb 14, 2013

Millions of vehicles, smartphones, and other devices in use all around the world support GPS navigation capability today. People rely on this GPS capability every day to get around in unfamiliar cities and to find better routes in cities they are familiar with. A group of Spanish researchers has recently claimed that they have discovered a way to help improve GPS accuracy in cities by as much as 90%.

GPS can be difficult or impossible to use in major cities where satellite signals can be blocked by tall buildings. Many people who live in rural communities have a similar problem with GPS signals being blocked by tall trees and foliage. A group of Spanish researchers from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid has developed a prototype device to improve GPS signal quality.

The device is able to add data from accelerometers and gyroscopes to the conventional GPS signal thereby reducing the margin of error in the system. Researcher David Martin claims that he and his team were able to improve the determination of the vehicles position in critical cases at a rate of between 50 and 90% depending on how degraded the GPS signal to the navigation device is. The standard margin of error for commercial GPS receivers in cars is roughly 15 m in an open field.

In an urban setting where buildings block signals, accuracy can be off more than 50 m. Using the new prototype device, the researchers say that that margin of error within an urban setting can be reduced to one or 2 m. The prototype device uses a low-cost Inertial Measurement Unit using three accelerometers and three gyroscopes that are able to measure changes in velocity and vehicle maneuvers and direction. That data is then merged and used to correct errors in the GPS position data. There is no indication of when or if this technology might come to market.

[via TG Daily]

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