Australia to adjust national coordinates to keep up with moving continent | News | DW | 30.07.2016
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Australia to adjust national coordinates to keep up with moving continent

The latitude and longitude of Australia are due for a tuneup in order to align with global navigation systems, the nation's scientists have said. Currently, the national coordinates are off by more than one meter.

Australia's national coordinates will soon be recalculated and adjusted to keep pace with changing navigation technology, a government science body said this week.

The "land down under" actually moves north by seven centimeters every year due to its position on the world's fastest moving continental tectonic plate, said Geoscience Australia.

Currently, the country's coordinates are off by 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) due to years of natural shifting.

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

The continental shifts especially cause problems for new technologies which rely on precise location data, such as remotely-operated equipment in mining and farming or self-driving cars.

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

The Geocentric Datum of Australia, the nation's local coordinate system, has not been updated since 1994. Scientists worry that the latitudinal and longitudinal lines will be off by as much as 1.8 meters by 2020.

New data on Australia's updated coordinates is expected to appear in January 2017.

rs/rc (AFP)

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