New technology for navigating without GPS

Mar 14, 2005

A new method for navigation at sea, independent of GPS, is being put forward in a dissertation from Linkoping University.
Today merchant marine, military, and recreational boat traffic all rely on the global satellite system GPS to determine their position at sea. But sometimes information from the system is incorrect. Poor visibility or lax attention can then spell disaster.

GPS can be jammed, either unintentionally or intentionally. Signals from the satellites can be interfered with by ice build-up on the vessel's antennas, by other communication equipment, or by physical obstacles. Submarines cannot usually use the system.

Doctoral student Rickard Karlsson at the Center for Control and Communication describes in his thesis how modern, simulation-based methods of treating signals can be used to monitor and, if necessary, to take over the GPS function on a vessel.

This technology, unique in the world, requires no external infrastructure and is not susceptible to interference. Instead, the vessel's own radar is used to measure the distance to surrounding shores, and this data is then compared with a digital sea chart. In a submarine, information from sonar equipment is compared with a digital depth chart. In combination with data about the movement of the vessel, the correct position can be calculated.

The method is based on a mathematical algorithm, a so-called particle filter, which is installed as a program in the vessel's computer system. There is no need for any further hardware to be installed beyond what is already on board. Preliminary trials show that the method works just as well as GPS in navigating an archipelago.

The dissertation Particle Filtering for Positioning and Tracking Applications deals with several other uses of the same principle: positioning industrial robots, tracking vehicles from another vehicle to avoid collisions, and tracking boats and ships from an airplane.

Source: Swedish Research Council

Explore further: Mental health monitoring through 'selfie' videos and social media tracking

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Google joins fight against illegal fishing

Nov 14, 2014

Technology giant Google has taken the battle against illegal fishing online, with the company unveiling a tool in Australia on Friday that harnesses satellite data to track thousands of boats in real time.

Freighter without crew

Apr 02, 2014

Ships of the future will soon be steered across the Seven Seas – unmanned. A new simulator is helping propel these plans forward. Partners from five different countries engineered the design of the autonomous ...

Recommended for you

Mashable gets $17 mn funding led by Time Warner

2 hours ago

Mashable, a news website focused on technology and entertainment, said Thursday it raised $17 million in capital led by Time Warner Investments, to help fuel expansion plans.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.