Trial of ultra-precise location tech launches

First contracts with industry signed for SBAS trial

A two-year government-backed trial of technologies that could boost the accuracy of GPS and similar location technologies has officially launched.

The government has put $12 million towards the trial, which is managed by Geoscience Australia and Land Information New Zealand in partnership with GMV, Inmarsat and Lockheed Martin.

The NZ government is also putting $2 million to help fund the trial of Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS).

The Australia and New Zealand CRC for Spatial Information (CRC SI) is managing industry projects linked to the trial.

The government announced in January it would fund an SBAS technology testbed to assess its potential impact on nine key sectors — agriculture, aviation, construction, maritime, mining, rail, road, spatial, and utilities.

The testbed is intended to assess three different technologies:

• Single frequency service SBAS, which is equivalent to the US WAAS and Europes EGNOS and which Geoscience Australia says will improve the accuracy of stand-alone GPS from 5 metre accuracy to better than one metre.

• “Next-generation” Dual Frequency/Multiple Constellation SBAS.

• Precise Point Positioning (PPP), which can provide better than 10-centimetre accuracy.

“All up, three signals will be uplinked to a geostationary communications satellite out of Lockheed Martin’s station at Uralla in the New England region of New South Wales,” said minister for resources and northern Australia Matt Canavan.

“In September, a second generation SBAS (SBAS-2) signal was switched on. It is the first time anywhere in the world that SBAS-2 signals have been transmitted. Australia is also the first country in the world to trial Precise Point Positioning corrections integrated into a SBAS service.”

“We know that working closely with industries like agriculture is the key to understanding what Australia can gain from investing in technologies that may improve positioning accuracy from the current five to 10 metres down to less than 10 centimetres,” Canavan said.

“As part of the trial, a number of the projects will be looking at how improvements in positioning can be used to increase production and lower costs for farmers.

“For example, one of the projects will be examining the potential of ‘fenceless farming’ for strip grazing, while another will be looking at how crop health can be improved through more precise irrigation, fertiliser use and pest control.”

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Tags GPS technologypositioning`GPS

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