In an example of a good use of tax dollars, the U.S. Air Force is upgrading the GPS system with new satellites that will, among other things, provide one-meter accuracy in positioning. That’s much better than even the best WAAS-enhanced receivers can do today. The new GPS “constellation” of satellites will also be more reliable, their timekeeping more accurate (because a billionth of a second just wasn’t fine enough), and they will be remotely re-programmable so they can receive software upgrades from the ground. See the full story in the Los Angeles Times (and a tip o’ the hat to NextBigFuture for the pointer).
Thinking deeper: The upgrade to one-meter accuracy won’t just be nice for geocaching, but will make possible all kinds of new things that just could not have been done before. A few that quickly come to mind:
- At large events you’ll be able to locate a friend, a sales booth, or a designated parking slot with just GPS coordinates. When you get your admission ticket it could have a bar code that your GPS phone can read (as Android phones do now) that will guide you right to your seat, to an assigned parking slot, and to the booth location(s) of particular sponsors.
- And no, presently people don’t get assigned parking spaces along with their seat assignment at a ball game or concert. But with one-meter GPS that would be very easy to do. That way when you arrive at the game you get there with a reserved parking space and you know exactly where it is — no need to keep driving around hunting and fighting for a parking space. An event organizer could even choose to provide premium parking for premium pricing separate from the ticket pricing.
- Automotive GPS units could give you clear, precise, and accurate directions on required lane changes and in which lane you should be position for a turn or highway transition.
- If cars were equipped to send and receive short-range signals that continually transmit each car’s position, speed, and direction of travel, that data could be used by nearby cars to predict and warn of possible collisions, such as around blind corners, if a car appears not to be stopping for a red light, etc. This would, in effect, be a ground version of the TCAS (Traffic Collision and Avoidance System) used in aviation.
I could sit here and come up with ideas all day long, but I’m sure you can come up with lots of ideas of your own. Post’em and let’s discuss.