$12 million boost to Australian positioning technology

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The Australian Government this morning announced that it will invest $12 million in a two-year program looking into the future of positioning technology in Australia.

The funding will be used to test a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) and precise point positioning (PPP) for instant, accurate and reliable positioning technology that could provide future safety, productivity, efficiency and environmental benefits across many industries in Australia, including transport, agriculture, construction, and resources.

Our long-term plan will improve positioning accuracy in Australia to less than five centimetres.”

– James Johnson, Acting Chief Executive of Geoscience Australia.

The Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, broke the news this morning, highlighting the potential of SBAS technology for transport applications and the advent of connected and autonomous vehicles.

“SBAS utilises space-based and ground-based infrastructure to improve and augment the accuracy, integrity and availability of basic Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals, such as those currently provided by the USA Global Positioning System (GPS),” Chester said.

“The future use of SBAS technology was strongly supported by the aviation industry to assist in high accuracy GPS-dependent aircraft navigation.

“Positioning data can also be used in a range of other transport applications including maritime navigation, automated train management systems and in the future, driverless and connected cars.”

An SBAS will overcome the current gaps in our mobile and radio communications and, when combined with on-ground operational infrastructure and services, will ensure that accurate positioning information can be received anytime and anywhere within Australia. Image: Geoscience Australia

An SBAS, depicted above, will overcome the current gaps in our mobile and radio communications to ensure that accurate positioning information can be received anytime and anywhere within Australia. Image: Geoscience Australia

As part of the Australian Government’s National Positioning Infrastructure (NPI), the SBAS test-bed is Australia’s first step towards joining countries such as the US, Russia, India, Japan and many across Europe in investing in SBAS technology and capitalising on the link between precise positioning, productivity and innovation. The two-year project will test SBAS technology that has the potential to improve positioning accuracy in Australia to less than five centimetres. 

 

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Early in 2017, Geoscience Australia with the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI) will call for organisations from a number of industries including agriculture, aviation, construction, mining, maritime, rail, road, spatial, and utilities to participate in the test-bed.

An announcement this morning from Geoscience Australia’s Acting Chief Executive, James Johnson, welcomed the announcement saying that more Australians than ever before rely on global positioning technologies to navigate, make businesses more productive and to improve safety.

“The SBAS test-bed is Australia’s first step toward developing the positioning technology and expertise we need to be competitive globally and take our place as an industry leader in the Asia Pacific region,” Johnson said.

“Australia currently relies on the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) of other countries including the United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS). These international systems working together, typically give Australians positioning accuracy of five to 10 metres.”

“Our long-term plan will improve positioning accuracy in Australia to less than five centimetres.”

The SBAS test-bed will utilise existing national GNSS infrastructure developed by AuScope as part of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.

It will test two new satellite positioning technologies- next generation SBAS and Precise Point Positioning, which provide positioning accuracies of several decimetres and five centimetres respectively.

Highly accurate positioning technologies are already available in Australia, but they are expensive and only available in specific areas and to niche markets.

Over the two year life of the project, Geoscience Australia will be collaborating with a number of different industries to identify and capitalise on the benefits improved positioning technology offers in terms of productivity, innovation and expertise.