New technology for navigating without GPS

March 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: Great opportunities for marine research with new underwater vehicle

Related Stories

System to detect and localise all ships in European seas

March 6, 2017

A European project is coming close to the validation of a prototype of 'Passive bistatic radar' (PBR) technology based on Galileo transmissions. Once finalised, the new system could help relevant authorities to assure better ...

GPS on commercial ships could improve tsunami warnings

May 7, 2012

Commercial ships travel across most of the globe and could provide better warnings for potentially deadly tsunamis, according to a study published May 5 by scientists at the University of Hawaii – Manoa (UHM) and the ...

Recommended for you

Scientists illuminate structures vital to virus replication

June 27, 2017

In the fight against the viruses that invade everyday life, seeing and understanding the battleground is essential. Scientists at the Morgridge Institute for Research have, for the first time, imaged molecular structures ...

0 comments

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.