New Directions in Navigation and Positioning

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New Directions in Navigation and Positioning

In an era of same-day product deliveries, interplanetary space probes, and autonomous vehicles, transporting something—or someone—from here to there quickly, directly, and precisely is becoming increasingly important. A number of different navigation and positioning technologies are now available to help guide and locate vehicles, people, and an almost endless number of objects. The satellite-based global positioning system (GPS), for instance, now lies at the heart of an almost endless array of location, navigation, timing, mapping, and tracking tools. Real-time location system technologies, meanwhile, rely on resources such as GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, near-field communication, and radio-frequency identification to detect the current location of a target, which may be anything from a vehicle to an item in a manufacturing plant to a person. With navigation and positioning technologies continuing to fuel the development of innovative commercial, industrial, consumer, and scientific applications, researchers are turning to signal processing methods and approaches to tweak the performance of existing systems as well as to pioneer completely new tools and services. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, have developed a new navigation system that is based entirely on existing terrestrial signals, such as cellular and Wi-Fi, rather than GPS. The new technology, which the researchers claim is both highly reliable and accurate, can function as a standalone alternative to GPS or as an alternative to satellite signals to enable highly reliable, consistent, and tamper-proof navigation in autonomous systems, such as robots, driverless terrestrial vehicles, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Since GPS is unreliable for anytime, anywhere navigation, including indoors and in deep urban canyons, there are dozens of strong signals of opportunity in most GPS-challenged environments that are available at various frequencies, geometry and transmission protocols. A paper titled New Directions in Navigation and Positioning by John Edwards published in IEEE Signal Processing Magazine, May 2017 introduces new developments in this field and comments on various signal processing opportunities.

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