Apple has bolstered its mapping capabilities with the acquisition of Bay Area firm Coherent Navigation, which specializes in navigation and GPS systems. The company was founded in 2008 by engineers from Stanford and Cornell.

Coherent Navigation builds a High Integrity GPS (“iGPS”) system that is capable of combining signals from traditional mid-earth orbit satellites with those from low-earth satellites from voice and data provider Iridium. This results in greater accuracy and signal strength, and prevents jams.

According to a 2009 press release for iGPS, the technology can “provide geographic positioning data to within centimeters, a vast improvement over current standalone GPS, which provides data within meters.”

iGPS has been used by warfighters, and gives them the ability to lock onto targets and maintain a GPS signal even while operating in urban areas, forests, mountains, and canyons where traditional GPS systems would be restricted.

Confirmation of Apple’s acquisition from The New York Times comes after several Coherent employees began working for Apple, including CEO Paul Lego, and co-founders William Bencze and Brett Ledvina.

Coherent’s website is now offline, but MacRumors reports that the name servers for its domain were updated to point to Apple servers on April 30. The Cupertino company would not explicitly confirm the buyout, however; it instead provided the usual statement:

Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.

Coherent is one of a number of firms Apple has acquired in recent years to improve its mapping services, and the company’s technology could also be used for Apple’s rumored electric car project.