British scientists have made a breakthrough in developing an atomic clock system which could rival and replace the existing GPS and Galileo systems.
The UK is currently dependent on the US for its access to the GPS system, and the EU for the Galileo satellite navigation system meaning the achievement could be a step closer to becoming independent in the field.
A report by Sky News describes how the dependence leaves the UK’s navigation systems exposed to both the risks of international politics, as well as the availability of the signal itself.
Dr Alessia Pasquazi from the group of University of Sussex scientists as part of the EPic Lab explained how the new atomic clock could mean accessing a satellite signal would be unnecessary.
She said: “With a portable atomic clock, an ambulance, for example, will be able to still access their mapping whilst in a tunnel, and a commuter will be able to plan their route whilst on the underground or without mobile phone signal in the countryside.
“Portable atomic clocks would work on an extremely accurate form of geo-mapping, enabling access to your location and planned route without the need for satellite signal.”
She added: “This technology will change people’s everyday lives as well as potentially being applicable in driverless cars, drones and the aerospace industry.”
This news follows Theresa May’s announcement last summer which pledged £92m to a UK satellite project to develop a rival to the EU’s Galileo in a sign she expected Britain to be frozen out of the project following Brexit.
However, despite the positive breakthrough, the atomic clocks replacing the GPS and Galileo systems won’t happen by the time the UK leaves the EU as Pasquazi estimated that it could happen “within 20 years.”