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China’s Beidou satellite navigation system halves margin of error

2013-12-27 16:49 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Si Huan

China's homegrown navigation system Beidou has improved its accuracy to an error margin as low as five meters from 10 and can be further improved to be within centimeters to compete with the dominant US Global Positioning System, officials said on Friday.

The navigation system has been providing accurate and stable services to Asia-Pacific users since China launched it a year ago, said Ran Chengqi, the spokesman and director of the China Satellite Navigation Office.

The accuracy can be within seven meters in Beijing, Zhengzhou, Xi'an and Urumqi in central and north China, and can reach an accuracy of five meters in some low-latitude Asian countries, Ran said.

"China will keep launching Beidou satellites while improving its accuracy to cover the whole globe by 2020," he said.

The Beidou Ground Base Enhancement System's 11 base stations are expected to help improve Beidou's positioning accuracy from an error margin of 10 meters to within several centimeters or even millimeters under optimum conditions, similar to or better than the US-developed GPS.

Beidou currently consists of 16 satellites, and another 40 satellites will be launched in 10 years, by which time the global system will be available around the world, Ran said.

Beidou, which means the Big Dipper in Chinese, has functionality and performance "comparable" to the GPS system, but is cheaper, Ran said.

It has a positioning accuracy of 10 meters, speed accuracy of 0.2 meters per second and timing accuracy of 50 nanoseconds, the same as the GPS system. Beidou is the only satellite navigation system in the world that offers telecommunications services. That means apart from giving users location and time information, Beidou can also send users' information to other people and communicate with users via text messages.

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