Australia is drifting away and it’s messing up GPS coordinates

Whenever you’re out in the wild and you’ve lost track of where you are, your smartphone’s GPS (or global positioning system, if you’re insistent on giving it its full and proper name) is always on hand to get you out of danger.

Unfortunately, though, it appears Australia just isn’t content with allowing this technological tracking miracle.

According to Dan Jaksa from Geoscience Australia, the land Down Under is going rogue and moving north by around 7 centimetres (2.8 inches) each year.

He told Australia’s ABC news agency that the drifting continent has forced local coordinates out of touch by almost 5 feet so far, with the problem only prime to get worse.


Being exact about where the country is at matters, now more than ever. As Jaksa pointed out, there are myriad devices and technologies reliant on GPS, from Pokémon Go to auto-pilot car functions.

“With the applications that are coming in intelligent transport systems — like driverless cars — if you’re 1.5 metres out then you’re in another lane,” he said.

To fix the problem, Geoscience Australia is going to update Australia’s coordinate system and move to what will be known as the “Geocentric Datum Australia 2020” in 2017, the ABC reported. Phew.


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