Right now your GPS sucks in cities but, soon, that will change. Scientists have developed a new system that increases its accuracy by up to 90%—it can tell where your vehicle is within an amazingly low margin of error of just three to six feet. Right now, the error margin in urban driving can be more than 160 feet.
The current error margin is caused by signal degradation: the satellite signals rebound or get blocked by tall buildings and tight streets, which make it impossible to accurately track your car's movements. So while a GPS can approximately guess where you may be in a urban environment, their data is not good enough for intelligent transportation systems, which is where the future of cars is headed.
Developed by researchers at the Universidad Carlos III of Madrid, Spain, the system uses a clever combination of software and six sensors—three accelerometers and three giroscopes—which combine in real time with the GPS data. In case of signal degradation, the system will automatically correct the position to the accurate coordinates. It can even track the car with extreme accuracy in the case of complete signal loss.
According to the developers, this opens the door to traffic control applications that will avoid congestion and increase the safety in urban environments. They are now investigating the use of this system for vehicle networking and automatic maneuvering to avoid collisions with other vehicles and pedestrians.