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No GPS, No Problem: Next-Generation Navigation


Simulation results for a unmanned drone flying over downtown Los Angeles.

Researchers at the University of California at Riverside say they have developed a reliable alternative to GPS that makes use of signals already present in the environment.

Credit: ASPIN Laboratory, University of California, Riverside

University of California, Riverside (UCR) researchers say they have developed a reliable and accurate navigation system that exploits existing environmental signals such as cellular and Wi-Fi, instead of the global-positioning system (GPS).

The researchers say the technology can be used as a standalone alternative to GPS, or as a complement to current GPS-based systems to enable reliable, consistent, and tamper-proof navigation. In addition, the technology could be used to develop navigation systems that meet the requirements of fully autonomous vehicles.

UCR professor Zak Kassas says researchers often have used an "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to prepare autonomous vehicle navigation systems for the scenario in which GPS signals become unavailable. However, Kassas says the UCR researchers took a different approach by exploiting signals that are already out in the environment. Instead of adding more internal sensors, the researchers have been developing autonomous vehicles that could access the hundreds of signals already in the environment, such as those from cellphones, radio and TV transmissions, Wi-Fi, and other satellites.

The team demonstrated research that exploits these existing communication signals, or signals of opportunity, for navigation.

"Our overarching goal is to get these vehicles to operate with no human in the loop for prolonged periods of time," Kassas says.

From UCR Today
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