SuperGPS is a geopositioning technology for high precision that was developed by scientists from the Delft University of Technology, Free University of Amsterdam, and Van Swinden Laboratory in The Netherlands. This technology works on a similar principle to GPS but uses terrestrial networks.
SuperGPS is not based on satellites. Instead, it uses radio transmitters located in urban areas. Synchronization is done through one atomic clock linked via fiber optic cables. The analogy to traditional GPS is complete. SuperGPS uses terrestrial radio transmitters scattered throughout urban areas. They determine their location using triangulation and communicate with multiple radio nodes, counting the time it takes to transmit signals, and then count the time.
According to the authors of the project, the problem of buildings reflecting radio signals is solved by a large “virtual bandwidth”, which is made up of smaller sections. The result is signals that are similar to cellular radio signals. Mobile phones can ignore interference from buildings or other objects that could potentially compromise communication quality. In busy environments, SuperGPS helped scientists locate objects with precision of several tens to centimeters.
While the new system won’t replace satellite positioning, it will complement GPS and other solutions that have higher accuracy. It can also be used as a backup in case of an unplanned spacecraft failure.