Australia Moves Too Fast for GPS

Mathilde Nakken
December 4th 2016

Australia isn't where you think it is! The continent is moving seven centimeters (2.75 inches) up northwards each year. From 1994, when the current coordinates of Australia were set, the land has shifted 1.5 meters (4.9 feet). It might not seem like a big deal, but it is still enough to disrupt global navigation satellite systems, putting Australia out of sync. This affects GPS, meteorologists, automated cars and even drones. For example, without updating the GPS, a delivery drone will leave the package at your neighbor's house, instead of yours.

Dan Jaksa from Geoscience Australia, says: "The we need to relocate for intelligent transportation systems that rely on the finer accuracy that will come with the next generation of GPS technology. Take the self driving car as an example. If you’re 1.5 meters out, you’re potentially on the wrong side of the road".

In the last 50 years Australia has already been officially relocated on the map four times. Scientists are now planning to update all of Australia’s coordinates one more time by January 2017. Shifting not 1.5 meters, but 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) up north, towards the equator. This over estimation should align with Australia’s location in 2020, when a new system will be launched. Scientists, in fact, are developing a new system that will globally relocate all the coordinates regularly. So every tectonic shift will be registered on the planet map, making sure everybody in the world is on the same page.

Source: Insider. Image: NASA

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