Australia Is About 5 Feet From Where We Left It in 1994

And that's a problem for self-driving cars
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2016 4:13 PM CDT
Australia Is About 5 Feet From Where We Left It in 1994
According to science, this Australian kangaroo is about 5 feet north of where it was in 1994.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – For the love of GPS, somebody stop Australia from moving. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports the country is located smack dab on top of the fastest moving tectonic plate in the world. That means Australia is approximately 5 feet north of where it was in 1994—the last time the Geocentric Datum of Australia was updated—and where current mapping shows it, according to CNET. "If you want to start using driverless cars, accurate map information is fundamental," Dan Jaksa at Geoscience Australia tells the BBC. "We have tractors in Australia starting to go around farms without a driver, and if the information about the farm doesn't line up with the coordinates coming out of the navigation system there will be problems."

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To fix it, Geoscience Australia is updating the country's latitude and longitude to better reflect its actual location. Those new coordinates will be released in 2017 but will be based on projections for 2020. By the time 2020 rolls around and the coordinates are accurate, Australia hopes to have switched to a new system that takes the continent's drifting—about 2.75 inches per year—into account. (Click for the story of how the US shrank one square mile.)

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