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GPS Innovation Puts Us on the Path to Self-Driving Cars

Navigating the streets of an unfamiliar city with the “help” of a GPS can extremely difficult because of the so-called “canyon effect” created by tall buildings, but researchers at Madrid’s Carlos III University say it’s about to get 90% better.

A joint team of more than 30 scientists have been working on a system that combines the satellite signal of the GPS with an inertial measurement device that registers the acceleration and turns of a moving vehicle.

The result is software that corrects errors from either of the signals to create a reliable inner-city navigation system. Lead designer Enrique Marti says it’s far better than a GPS alone where, in big cities, the signal is easily lost.

“The problem comes in complex urban environments where we have walls on both sides where the GPS gets lost and it gives us measurements that are less accurate and sometimes it even says that it has good accuracy when it isn’t the case,” said Marti.

The team thinks that its system will even contribute to the development of self-driving cars in the future. In the meantime, they’re looking to develop a user-friendly GPS smartphone application that will complement the measuring device.