Feeds

Moneybags pour shower of gold on new mega-precise GPS system

Makers: We'll show where you are to within an inch for 1,000 bucks

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A GPS-based satellite navigation system promises accuracy to within an inch by December this year – to those willing to stick a thousand dollars into the pot.

Swift Navigation, makers of the super-accurate satnav, say it uses existing Real Time Kinematic (RTK) navigation techniques to ensure its pinpoint accuracy. Rather than costing thousands of dollars, as existing RTK GPS units do, Swift's proposal is based around a $500 board running open-source software – potentially bringing cheap super-precise GPS to the masses.

The team claim to have 25 units already built, and want $14,000 in Kickstarter funding to cover the software development. Yet the appeal has already raised more than $53k, putting the device on schedule for shipping before the end of the year.

RTK GPS systems, including Swift's charmingly named Piksi, use the phase of the GPS signal to increase the system's accuracy. The phase of the carrier wave - as opposed to the code it carries - isn't easy to identify because every phase “looks” the same. One can easily shift from one identical wave to another, introducing a 19cm inaccuracy (as each phase is 19cm long) but the team reckon their "clever algorithms" will solve that one.

RTK GPS also uses a second GPS placed at a known location, to allow for atmospheric disturbance. The speed of light, and thus the speed of radio waves, is irritatingly inconsistent when passing through the atmosphere and whilst a GPS radio signal spends most of its time in the vacuum of space, the last hundred km or so are subject to the vagaries of our soupy air.

A second device, located within a few miles and at a known location, can provide a reference for current atmospheric effects, allowing the moving device to give an extremely accurate location.

The Piksi comes with a Zigbee module through which it can receive, or send, modifications to a second device within a kilometre or two. By using a standard protocol the Piksi can connect to existing RTK transmitters which are scattered around the country for the benefit of farmers already using GPS RTK kit.

Such farmers will provide a ready market for the Piksi, though the makers reckon it will also find a home in drones and autonomous cars, amongst other things. We'll certainly look forward to trying one (or two) at the year's end. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.