A planned self-driving technology using satellite data can adjust vehicle operations by mere centimeters, enabling cars to safely navigate very narrow roads, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. said.

Data from quasi-zenith satellites called Michibiki, which always stay over Japan, and the global positioning system (GPS) enable the technology to locate stopped or moving vehicles with a margin of error of 6 and 12 centimeters, respectively.

Under the GPS, margin of error increases to 10 meters.

Mitsubishi Electric performed a demonstration of the system in Ako, Hyogo Prefecture, on Oct. 17.

During the test, the xAUTO experimental vehicle that can receive signals from Michibiki passed through the middle of a road narrowed by obstacles along a gourd-shaped course.

Vehicles using GPS signals alone would be unable to complete such a course, Mitsubishi Electric officials said.

“Cars can stay in the middle of the lane as the error is reduced to several centimeters,” said Shinji Akatsu, vice director of the company’s automotive electronics development center.

The Japanese government on Oct. 10 launched its fourth Michibiki satellite, and its positioning system is expected to start operations in April.

Mitsubishi Electric said it plans to commercialize the self-driving technology by 2020 while urging automakers at home and abroad to adopt the new system.

The margin of error was also reduced thanks to Mitsubishi Electric’s high-precision receiver.

Although signals from satellites could be interrupted by atmospheric conditions, the special receiver can analyze and correct signal fluctuations based on information from reference points across the nation of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan.

(This article was written by Yuka Kanemoto and Naoatsu Aoyama.)