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Japan plans enhanced GPS system

(TOKYO-Relaxnews) – Japan is working on a new global positioning system that will be 10 times more accurate than the system that is currently in use and will be able to pinpoint a location down to just one meter.

At present, Japan uses an American-made system for GPS devices, but Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has announced that he is backing a project for a new system that utilizes “quasi-zenith” satellites that remain stationary over a given point on the Earth’s surface and are able to tune out interference caused by differences in terrain or tall, man-made structures.

The first of the new satellites was put into orbit in September and, when the entire system is in position, it will enable a user to narrow down their position to within 1 meter, instead of the 10-meter accuracy that is possible with the existing technology.

GPS chips are embedded in a wide range of electronic gadgets, ranging

When complete, Japan's future navigation system will be ten times more precise than the one currently in use. ©Rafal Olechowski/shutterstock.com

from mobile phones that permit the user to locate their exact position and utilize map software, to drivers using car navigation systems.

The new system will also take into account the shift in the position of the Japanese archipelago caused by the March 11 earthquake. Many navigation systems were thrown off immediately after the quake as parts of the country moved as much as 5 meters to the east and others sank a couple of meters.

Experts believe the new system will also be if great help the next time a major natural disaster strikes Japan, assisting in search-and-rescue operations and monitoring survivors’ locations.

Under the government’s plan, four satellites will be placed in orbit by 2016 and the system will eventually incorporate information beamed back from no fewer than seven satellites. The system will initially only be designed to cover Japan but the technology will be readily applicable to the rest of the world. Russia and India are also reportedly working on new systems while the US has plans to update the one that it currently provides for the rest of the world.

An initial research budget of Y667 million (€6.72 million) has been approved for Japan’s project, with a further Y10.6 billion (€106.85 million) earmarked for development of the system.

JR

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