Soon all you will need to find a cashpoint or let the Automobile Association pinpoint your expired vehicle will be a mobile phone, thanks to technology that identifies the location of the devices.
It is being developed by companies associated with the University of Technology Sydney and Cambridge University. Insearch Limited, the UTS technology transfer company, last month signed an agreement with Cambridge Positioning Systems, set up to exploit technology based on research at the university.
Under the arrangement, Craig Scott and Malcolm MacNaughtan are moving to Cambridge to work with the CPS team.
Dr Scott said the push for location systems for GSM mobile phones had been driven by a US directive requiring wireless operators by October 2001 to be able to determine the location of a phone making an emergency call to within a 50m range. Other countries are likely to follow suit.
Analysts say that by 2005, 393 million of the expected 730 million mobile phone customers will subscribe to mobile location services, a market worth more than $10 billion (Pounds 6.7 billion).
The teams have developed systems that achieve similarly accurate results but work in different ways, Dr Scott said. He and his colleagues have based their system on a programmable radio receiver that works on the same frequencies as mobile phones and can operate while the phone is being used for voice calls.
CPS's Cursor system, in contrast, requires hardware to be added to mobile network base stations and depends on the GSM short message service to make a request and send information back to the phone.
Dr Scott said a number of firms around the world were working on similar ventures, but Insearch felt most comfortable with CPS, led by Peter Duffet-Smith, its chief technical officer.He developed the system while working on radio signals at Cambridge University.
CPS details: www.cursor-system.com