SuperGPS project presents alternative navigation system that is more robust and accurate than GPS


SuperGPS project presents alternative navigation system that is more robust and accurate than GPS

The scientific journal Nature has published the results of the SuperGPS project, a collaboration between VSL, VU Amsterdam and TU Delft in which scientists developed an alternative navigation system with an accuracy of 10 centimetres. The results represent the first demonstration of a system that can provide connectivity such as cellular and Wi-Fi networks as well as accurate position and time information such as GPS. The system is implemented in a specially developed mobile network. This technology is expected to be important for applications such as automated driving, quantum communication, sustainable energy generation and the next generation of mobile networks.

The results offer a glimpse of a future in which telecommunications networks not only provide connectivity but also time and location-dependent applications with an accuracy that is much higher and faster than that of satellite navigation systems such as GPS.

Need for an alternative navigation system

Much vital infrastructure depends on satellite navigation systems such as the American GPS and the European Galileo. However, these systems have limitations and vulnerabilities: the radio signals received are weak, and positioning becomes inaccurate when the radio signals are reflected or blocked by buildings. Yet citizens, authorities and our infrastructure depend on these satellite navigation systems and there is no backup system.

Transformation of the telecommunications network through smart innovations

In the SuperGPS project, the scientists discovered that with a few smart innovations they could transform the telecommunications network into a highly accurate alternative to GPS. For example, one of the innovations consists of connecting a very accurate atomic clock to the mobile network. This allows the system to send perfectly timed messages for positioning.

The system also uses radio signals with a much larger bandwidth than usual. This helps to identify confusing reflections in the navigation equipment, which can increase location accuracy.

The results of the SuperGPS project were made possible in part by grants from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), domain Toegepaste Technische Wetenschappen.

Would you like to know more?

  • Read the publication in Nature here.
  • For more information about the SuperGPS project click here.

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