Locata: The New GPS?
January 4, 2013 11:50 AM
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The new ground-based tech can pinpoint locations outdoors and indoors
GPS struggles to find your exact location
at times, a new positioning technology could step up and give a more accurate area both indoors and outdoors.
The new positioning technology is by Locata, and it uses ground-based equipment instead of satellites to send a radio signal over a certain area. This signal is reportedly a million times stronger than a GPS signal.
While GPS mainly gives outdoor locations, Locata's ground tech is tackling indoor locations such as huge shopping malls as well. Its receivers can be small enough to fit inside a cell phone, so if shoppers are lost in a large mall, they can use Locata on their smartphone to find a certain area.
When tested at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, Locata worked to within 18 centimeters along any axis. GPS typically has location resolutions of a few meters. Locata's technology could bring the resolution as far down as 5 centimeters in the future, making location pinpoints even more precise.
Locata's signal is much stronger because solid objects like GPS signals don’t block it as easily. However, Locata could still use some help in urban settings with many buildings packed so closely together.
It is suggested that Locata's tech will not replace GPS, but rather, work with it to offer both satellite locations and ground-based locations for
greater accuracy in different situations
. For example, the Jigsaw Positioning System uses both Locata and GPS to guide the placement of drill rigs in Western Australia.
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RE: how many centimeters?
1/5/2013 12:45:54 PM
As I understood the guy's comments on the White Sands Missile range test, they had air craft traveling at 500 mph with 6 cm of accuracy at 30 miles range from the Locata beacon.
You forget that it isn't just the space in front of a vehicle that is important, the space on each side is important as well. It won't be long before we have autonomous vehicles on the road, and some of these will be things like large trucks. Would you rather have one driving past your parked car with 6 cm accuracy or 1 meter accuracy?
Other applications will be things like warehousing, supermarket stock, phone company equipment, and courier firms, where people can need to know exactly where an item is, especially when every item looks the same but isn't.
RE: how many centimeters?
1/6/2013 1:49:50 AM
Spot on. I highlighted the White Sands performance here because that's what the New Scientist article was mainly about. However, if you care to look, you'll see there are already operational Locata systems in open-cut mines where we are providing better than 1.5cm (that's about 3/4 inch) across a 5km (3 mile) diameter area. Very soon we're introducing indoor warehousing systems that are delivering better than 2.5cm (1 inch) in brutal indoor radio multipath conditions where GPS is not available at all. Most folks don't seem to understand why you need this sort of accuracy, but ask anyone involved in automation or positioning machines, and they'll tell you it's absolutely essential if you want to have a useable autonomous system.
"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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