A navigation system based mostly on high-energy particles created by cosmic rays has been efficiently examined underground for the primary time. The expertise might in the future be used to information underground and underwater robots, and even assist search and rescue efforts in collapsed mines or buildings.
Current navigation instruments like GPS use radio waves to triangulate a place, however these indicators are usually absorbed or mirrored by water or thick rock. “That’s why it’s troublesome to make use of GPS in indoor or underground environments,” says Hiroyuki Tanaka on the College of Tokyo, Japan.
To get round this drawback, researchers have turned to particles known as muons, that are created when cosmic rays collide with particles in Earth’s ambiance and might move by means of water and rock unaffected. For instance, the US Navy has investigated utilizing a muometric place system, or MuPS, that utilises the properties of muons to navigate underground and underwater.
Now, Tanaka and his colleagues have developed a wi-fi model of the expertise, dubbed the muometric wi-fi navigation system (MuWNS).
Within the first real-world check of MuWNS, researchers positioned 4 reference detectors on a constructing’s sixth flooring, whereas somebody walked with a receiver detector across the basement. Much like how a GPS works, the system calculated the placement of the particular person within the basement utilizing the time taken for the muons to move between the reference detectors and the receiver detector within the basement, in addition to their angle.
The workforce discovered that MuWNS might monitor the particular person within the basement with an accuracy of between 2 to 25 metres, which is akin to GPS. That is sufficient to make the system helpful for offering navigation to automobiles in tunnels or maybe in the future to seek out survivors in rubble after earthquakes or cyclones, says Tanaka.
“It’s intriguing to see muons being utilized in a prototype positioning system which claims fairly a excessive accuracy,” says Stephen Blundell on the College of Oxford. “This new method might discover purposes in sure specialised environments.”