Cellular signals, TV transmissions, Wi-Fi.
What if you could take all that invisible detritus that's forever flying around our heads and harness it for something more than its intended purpose?
That's apparently what researchers at the University of California, Riverside, have done to create a navigation system that goes beyond the limitations of GPS.
It could be used on its own or as a supplement to Global Positioning System signals, which, the researchers said, are susceptible to intentional and unintentional jamming and to hacking, and which can also drop out in certain environments.
At the moment, many navigation systems for autonomous vehicles buttress GPS signals with data from sensor-based technologies like sonar and lasers.
"By adding more and more sensors, researchers are throwing 'everything but the kitchen sink' to prepare autonomous vehicle navigation systems for the inevitable scenario that GPS signals become unavailable," team leader Zak Kassas said in the release. "We took a different approach, which is to exploit signals that are already out there in the environment."
The team showed off its research earlier this year at the 2016 Institute of Navigation Global Navigation Satellite System Conference. To navigate the technical details, you can check out a couple of studies: "Signals of Opportunity Aided Inertial Navigation" (PDF) and "Performance Characterization of Positioning in LTE Systems" (PDF).