New in-car GPS tech uses motion sensors for accurate, autonomous city driving

In-car GPS developers have long had to wrestle with the urban canyon effect that blocks or bounces signals downtown: they often have to make best guesses for accuracy when they can't count on cellular or WiFi triangulation to pick up the slack, like a smartphone would. The Universidad Carlos III de Madrid has nonetheless found a way to borrow a page from mobile devices to get that accuracy back. By supplementing the GPS data with accelerometers and gyroscopes, researchers can use direction changes and speed to fill in the blanks, improving accuracy from a crude-at-best 49 feet to between 3 and 7 feet. The University's creation doesn't just minimize the chance of a wrong turn; it could be key to intelligent or driverless cars that have to perform sudden maneuvers all on their own. While the enhanced system is just a prototype without a commercialization schedule, it already slots into just about any car, including the University's own intelligent car prototype (not pictured here). We may no longer have to lump car GPS units into the same "close is good enough" category as horseshoes and hand grenades.

[Image credit: Steve Jurvetson, Flickr]