What About Indoor GPS When Satellite Reception Is Impossible?

Ever notice when you enter a tunnel in your car that your satellite radio and GPS cuts out, often your cellular smart phone connection too, not that you are supposed to be using it while driving anyway – I am just saying – surely you’ve noticed this. Some tunnels now have satellite radio repeaters such as the Big Dig in Boston, or the Baltimore Freeway tunnel under the river. Bart Trains in San Francisco also have repeaters for cellular phones and they have WiFi too, but what about GPS? Well, maybe scientists have figured that out too?

There was an interesting piece in MIT Technology Review published on October 9, 2013 titled; ” A Cure for Urban GPS: a 3-D Antenna – GPS readings in cities and indoors can be terrible. One startup has found a novel solution,” by Tom Simonite which stated;

“A new antenna design being tested by the U.S. Air Force could make GPS significantly more reliable and able to function in dense urban areas where GPS accuracy is weak. It might even allow the technology to work indoors in some cases. Good GPS readings are hard to get in cities because of the multipath phenomenon: signals from positioning satellites bounce off buildings and other structures. That confuses GPS receivers, which calculate their location by knowing exactly how long it took for signals to arrive from satellites overhead.”

When I read that, I thought to myself; My gosh, I was just talking about this very issue three days ago with a Scientist formerly with JPL working with the launching of communication satellites, he retired many years ago, but we both noted the challenges with GPS indoors and the need for that technology – there was also an interesting piece in the Science News today about using it in the mining industry – which is a perfect application for it as well. Also robotic factories – the future is coming are you ready?

How about underground parking or parking structures in big buildings? What about in big stadiums and airports? Where the hell am I? “You are here” says your smart phone! Ever been to the Smithsonian, Disneyland or some other huge place? Can you immediately see why we need all this technology? Which was is North, what are my coordinates, and can I use the Google Earth feature street view to see where the hell I am going? Yes, all this will be possible, and it’s time we take this technology and it’s obvious applications and put it to good use. Indeed, I ask you as a technology buff, to please consider all this and think on it.


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