China marks significant progress on its BeiDou satnav network

Engineers working on China’s domestically-produced sat nav system BeiDou say they have made significant progress on the network’s accuracy. At a press conference, they confirmed that the BeiDou satellites can pin users down to one or two metres with the help of a new chip. Prior to this, BeiDou could only get someone’s position accurate to 10 metres.

Li Xueli, an engineer working on BeiDou, said:

“For users, there are two big improvements. One is the time the system takes to process your journey. This is down from 30 seconds to just 3 seconds. The second improvement is the position accuracy. The system can now tell if the car is on the main road or side road.”

China will surely be pleased with the progress made on the satellite system and will reinforce confidence in the project going into 2018 when 18 more satellites are expected to be launched. By 2020, over 30 satellites will have been launched and will be usable anywhere in the world.

The more satellite systems that a device support, the more accurate your location data will be when trying to find out where you are on apps such as Google Maps. Most phones currently work with GPS and GLONASS, however, some cheaper models lack GLONASS support and location reliability drops noticeably due to a lack of observable satellites.

With 1-2m precision, BeiDou is just behind the EU’s Galileo satellite system which gives the public 1m accuracy. GPS gives 5m accuracy and GLONASS gives 4.5-7.4m accuracy.

Source: CGTN | Chinese flag image via Wikimedia

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