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Here’s How Waze Is Making Mapping Work in Tunnels

September 22, 2016, 6:13 PM UTC
Law Enforcement Officials Unhappy With WAZE GPS Appp
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: Screen view of the WAZE traffic gps app on an iphone on January 27, 2015. The application gives users real time traffic gps service, the ability to crowd-source report on road hazards, standstill traffic, police activity and photo traffic cameras. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Photograph by Linda Davidson — The Washington Post/Getty Images

Navigation app Waze is combating the frustrating issue of losing a GPS signal when driving through tunnels.

GPS signals can cut out in tunnels due to concrete and environmental factors, often leaving drivers without access to navigation. As a solution, Waze has developed Waze Beacons, which are relatively low-cost, battery-operated controllers that can transmit messages to a person’s smartphone or tablet and maintain map connections via Bluetooth.

Currently, Waze beacons are being set up in Pittsburgh’s Fort Pitt Tunnell and Liberty Tunnel, as well as in Israel. The company is also planning to install the beacons in tunnels across Rio de Janeiro and Paris.

Gil Disatnik, a systems operation engineer at Waze, came up with the concept after getting lost in Boston while driving from Logan Airport and losing a signal in a tunnel.

Now, Waze is hoping to eventually persuade all tunnel operators to purchase and install the beacons to alleviate the issue.

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The transmissions coming from the beacons are also unencrypted, allowing other map services like Google Maps (GOOG) and Apple Maps (AAPL) to connect to them through Bluetooth when GPS isn’t available.

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