Australia to adjust coordinates as it literally moves up in the world

SYDNEY • Australia will adjust its latitude and longitude to put the vast country into alignment with global navigation satellite systems, a government science body said.

The nation's coordinates are out by more than a metre, according to Geoscience Australia, and the discrepancy could cause major headaches for possible new technologies such as driverless cars, which require precise location data.

"We have to adjust our lines of latitude and longitude... so the satellite navigation systems that we all use on our smartphones these days can align with all the digital map information," Geoscience's Mr Dan Jaksa told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation last week.

Australia now moves north by about 7cm each year due to normal tectonic motion and Mr Jaksa said the change was needed "to keep pace with that".

He said smartphones were accurate to within 5-10m, but shrinking the gap would be crucial in the coming years, particularly with greater use of remotely-operated vehicles in farming and mining.

BETTER ROAD SENSE

In the not-too- distant future, we are going to have possibly driverless cars... where, 1.5m, well, you're in the middle of the road or you're in another lane.

GEOSCIENCE AUSTRALIA'S DAN JAKSA, on the need to adjust the country's latitude and longitude.

"(And) around the corner, in the not-too-distant future, we are going to have possibly driverless cars or at least autonomous vehicles where, 1.5m, well, you're in the middle of the road or you're in another lane," he said last Thursday.

"So the information needs to be as accurate as the information we are collecting."

Australia's local coordinate system, the Geocentric Datum of Australia, was last updated in 1994 and officials believe it will be out by 1.8m by 2020 unless corrected.

New data on the country's coordinates is expected to be available from Jan 1 next year.

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 31, 2016, with the headline 'Australia to adjust coordinates as it literally moves up in the world'. Print Edition | Subscribe