Originally developed for military use, the Global Positioning System has transformed civilian life, as well. It allows us to find friends, restaurants and stores using a myriad of consumer devices, from iPhones to built-in automotive navigation systems.
But the real test of the GPS system is fast approaching. The technology is likely to become essential to the operation of the autonomous vehicles set to start rolling across our highways early in the coming decade. The satellite-based guidance system will be paired up with laser, radar, camera and other sensors that will demand levels of accuracy measured in inches, rather than yards, which is the best the current GPS system can deliver.
A new development by the University of California, Riverside could hold the key to getting there. And their research could payoff in improvements in other consumer products, as well, from mobile phones to wearable technologies.