UK investigating passive radar system to detect aircraft location, free up 5G spectrum

Ready for a new radar system? The UK could be, if a new study is deemed a success. Thales, a French aerospace company which manufactures traditional radar systems, has received funding from the UK's Technology Strategy Board to study the feasibility of using TV signals to locate planes and choppers through a technology called "passive radar." According to the BBC, the system would monitor the timing of TV signals reflected from aircraft, which would enable equipment to display an exact location, while measuring the Doppler effect would provide speed and direction information.

Though it's not based on GPS, the new system would reportedly be more accurate and efficient than what's in use today, while also serving to free up spectrum that could be used for an upcoming 5G network. Unconvinced frequent fliers need not worry, however -- the country's existing radar infrastructure would remain intact throughout the test period, and air traffic control officials won't be switching to the new system unless it's sanctioned, which, considering the significance of such a move, could take some time.