GPS Tech Breakthrough Has Big Implications for the Future of Transportation

It's easy to think of GPS technology as a personal navigation device, but the potential for a faster, cheaper GPS technology extends deep into the emerging Internet of Things.

2 minute read

March 1, 2016, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Aarian Marshall reports on a breakthrough in GPS technology that will improve the performance of GPS for the masses—on their mobile phones, of course.

Marshall begins the article by noting that GPS technology is much more accurate than anyone who only uses a smart phone realizes:

Surveyors have used GPS to measure down to the centimeter for some time now. More precise GPS identifies signals at a higher frequency, called the carrier phase, but must use complex bits of mathematics to figure out locations. The problem is that this process is slow, and speeding it up to make it widely available to the public is expensive.

Enter Ray Farrell, a professor and electrical and computer engineering chair at the Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California, Riverside, who along with some colleagues published a paper in the journal IEEE, which describes a breakthrough in "[combining] GPS measurements with data from an inertial measurement unit, or IMU, which is an electronic device that can measure force and angular velocity."

Marshall describes in additional detail the technological advancement discovered by the team of engineers, but the notable result of their work: "very precise GPS just got a lot faster, and a lot cheaper." Beyond the personal applications possible with the new technology, Farrell and team focus mostly on the Internet of things: specifically the sensors that will be necessary to drive a fleet of automated vehicles.

Monday, February 29, 2016 in CityLab

View of Mount Hood at golden hour with Happy Valley, Oregon homes in foreground.

Clackamas County Votes to Allow ADUs, Residential RVs

County officials hope the zoning changes will help boost the housing supply in the region.

June 18, 2024 - Mountain Times

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Aerial view of intersection in New York City with yellow cabs and zebra crosswalks.

Planners’ Complicity in Excessive Traffic Deaths

Professor Wes Marshall’s provocatively-titled new book, "Killed by a Traffic Engineer," has stimulated fierce debates. Are his criticisms justified? Let’s examine the degree that traffic engineers contribute to avoidable traffic deaths.

June 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

Two-story homes on residential street in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

British Columbia Cracks Down on Short-Term Rentals

Provincial leaders say the new rules could open up as many as 19,000 units for long-term rental.

June 20 - CTV

Small backyard cottage with gabled roof in San Diego, California.

San Diego Sees Continued Growth in ADU Permits

Recent changes to regulations have made it easier and more affordable for homeowners to build ‘granny flats,’ and San Diego’s housing stock is benefiting.

June 20 - Axios San Diego

Close-up of top of California state capitol dome with U.S. and California flags flying and blue sky in background.

California is Updating its Climate Adaptation Strategy

The 2024 draft plan outlines the state's key climate resilience priorities, includes specific and measurable actions, and serves as a framework for collective efforts across sectors and regions in California.

June 20 - California Natural Resources Agency

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.