Japan’s Plan for Centimeter-Resolution GPS

A $1.2 billion system of satellites and ground stations would give unprecedented accuracy

3 min read
Japan’s Plan for Centimeter-Resolution GPS
Pacific Constellation: Four QZSS satellites will orbit in such a way that at least one is always directly over Japan. Three reserves will hang at the equator.
Illustration: Erik Vrielink

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.

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Top Tech 2023: A Special Report

These two dozen technical projects should make significant advances in the coming year

2 min read
Top Tech 2023: A Special Report
Edmon DeHaro

Each January, the editors of IEEE Spectrum offer up some predictions about technical developments we expect to be in the news over the coming year. You’ll find a couple dozen of those described in the following special report. Of course, the number of things we could have written about is far higher, so we had to be selective in picking which projects to feature. And we’re not ashamed to admit, gee-whiz appeal often shaped our choices.

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