BAE Systems has developed technology it claims could replace GPS for creating location data.
Named "Navigation via Signals of Opportunity" (Navsop), the technology uses existing signals from radio, TV, mobile and Wi-Fi to pinpoint locations within two metres.
BAE Systems says the Navsop technology makes the calculation using hundreds of different signals rather than just one. The defence company claims it is more reliable than GPS, which it says is a relatively weak satellite signal, vulnerable to disruption.
Navsop also means a location is less likely to be manipulated by tactics such as jamming a signal or spoofing, where fake signals can be sent to mislead trackers on a location.
On the other side of the scale, it is easier to pick up as well, with built-up urban areas unable to affect the signal and remote locations still being accessible by low-orbit satellites and any civilian connections.
James Baker, managing director of BAE Systems' Advanced Technology Centre, said: "At a time when the need to be innovative and resourceful is more important than ever, this capability represents truly outside-the-box thinking by providing a cost effective system with a wide variety of different applications.
“This technology is a real game-changer when it comes to navigation, which builds upon the rich heritage that both BAE Systems and the UK have in radio engineering."
BAE pointed to the implicit low-investment advantage of the Navsop technology using these signals when their infrastructure already exists. BAE Systems said the technology can simply be integrated into existing GPS positioning devices.
Dr Ramsey Faragher, a principal scientist from BAE’s Advanced Technology Centre, said the potential applications of Navsop were already generating interest in civilian and military circles.
As well as the more obvious connections for the armed forces, BAE Systems claimed the Navsop technology could be used by the emergency services for finding people after an accident or during a fire, as well as to provide more security for staff working on their own.
Commenting on when the Navsop technology would be commercially rolled out, a spokesman from BAE said it was always hard to say when a research project would become commercially available, but the company was already in discussion with a number of customers about rolling the technology out.
Last year, the Royal Academy of Engineering claimed the UK was "dangerously reliant" on GPS and inadequate independent backup could affect safety systems and other critical parts of the economy.