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Japan promising GPS system down to the centimeter

by GPS4US 2014-04-28 10:32

Engineers at Tokyo-based Mitsubishis Electic Corp. say they’re going to start the first commercial
centimeter-scale satellite positioning technology in Japan by 2018.

So, if you’re in Japan, you’ll know where you are to the nearest centimeter. You’ll never have to look
at the ground again!

The Quazi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS for short) will enhance Japan’s use of the American GPS. It
will provide more accurate navigation and positioning. While GPS may be off by a few meters, QZSS
corrects the measured distance from the satellites.
With Japan’s topography, that may be a problem.

“GPS positioning can be off by as much as 10 meters due to various kinds of errors,” says Yuki Sato, a
research engineer in Mitsubishi Electric’s Advanced Technology R&D Center, the prime contractor for the
space portion of the project. “And in Japan, with all its mountains and skyscrapers blocking out GPS
signals, positioning is not possible in some city and country locations.”

 perspective of a person on the ground, traces an asymmetrical figure eight in the sky.
A stranger to Tokyo could easily get lost in its urban canyons. And GPS navigation, stymied by low
resolution and a blocked view of the sky, might not be much help. But that won’t be the case after
2018. Engineers at Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Electric Corp. report that they’re on track to start up the
first commercial, nationwide, centimeter-scale satellite positioning technology. As well as spot-on
navigation, the technology will also usher in a variety of innovative new applications, its proponents
say.

Named Quazi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), it is designed to augment Japan’s use of the U.S.-operated
Global Positioning System (GPS ) satellite service. By precisely correcting GPS signal errors, QZSS can
provide more accurate and reliable positioning, navigation, and timing services.

Today’s GPS receivers  track the distance to four or more GPS satellites to calculate the receiver’s
position. But because of the various errors inherent in the GPS system, location can be off by several
meters. In using the data from QZSS to correct the measured distance from each satellite, the accuracy
of the calculated position is narrowed down to the centimeter scale.

The first satellite launched in 2010, and three others will head into orbit by 2017. At some point,
they’ll be joined by three more satellites, for a 7-satellite constellations.

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