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Can’t Get a GPS Signal? Researchers Develop Navigation System Based on Wi-Fi, LTE Signals

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Researchers at University of California Riverside (UCR) have presented new ways to make navigation systems work even without satellites. The newly designed system uses alternate radio signals like Wi-Fi and LTE for location data.

UCR PhD candidate Joshua Morales and his assistant Zak Kassas have developed a new inertial plus satellite navigation system that is able to use radio signals like Wi-Fi, mobile phone signals, TV transmissions, and AM/FM Radio to provide accurate navigations details, even when satellites are out of range.

The researchers claim that the current GPS navigation system isn’t accurate enough for an autonomous vehicle to rely on them fully, especially in areas where a satellite signal cannot be received. With autonomous vehicles seemingly on the horizon, Morales has designed a new way to provide accurate navigation with the help of radio signals. This navigation system eliminates the need to rely on satellite signals, and is the perfect solution for any potential GPS range/ jamming issues.

This research was presented in September at a navigation system conference. The researchers demonstrated how far radio signals have come, and their alternative usage. For those unaware, the decades-old GPS system has weakened over time, and issues like jamming and resiliency are now cropping up.

Calling the radio signals the “signals of opportunity” (SOO), the researchers say that using them will be challenging. While the vehicle is moving and the navigation systems loses connection to GPS satellites temporarily, it can take advantage of these radio signals to detect accurate location data. Just to explain how this works, UCR has also published a second paper showing how LTE signals can specifically be used to provide location data.