Over the past few weeks, a team of TU Delft researchers have worked on a prototype SuperGPS. SuperGPS aims to create a hybrid optical-wireless positioning system with decimetre level accuracy, in order to compliment GPS.
Nowadays we can’t live without ‘Global Navigation Satellite Systems’ (GNSS), such as GPS, for positioning, navigation and the distribution of time and frequency reference signals. Although GPS offers a lot of opportunities, it also has its limits. For example, signals of navigation satellites can be limited in built and urban environments, even though this is where it’s required most.
The goal of SuperGPS is to intercept these shortcomings with accurate positioning, navigation and network synchronisation. As seen in the image below, the blue lines represent the fibre-optic connections in the telecom network, which are synchronised with a master clock, in the red square. This network serves as the basis for a wireless improved terrestrial positioning system, visible in the green squares. Contrary to the current narrowband GNSS signals, this wireless system uses broadband radio signals. Specifically in situations where today’s GPS is limited or not at all available, SuperGPS can offer a direct time and frequency transfer, with 100 picoseconds accuracy and exact positioning.
One of the ways in which SuperGPS can be applied is through smart motorways and automated driving. The end goal of this project is therefore to hold a pilot demonstration of SuperGPS technology on the road.
This project started in 2016 and is being carried out by the TU Delft, specifically the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, and Computer Science, and the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, together with the Department of Physics at VU University in Amsterdam (LaserLab institute). This research project is funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO).