Monday, 13 November 2017 01:31

Government launches ‘world-first’ satellite positioning trial

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The Australian Government has launched a GeoScience-led trial of what is claimed as “world-first” satellite positioning technology.

Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan launched the trial in Rockhampton and said the first contracts with industry had been signed as part of a two-year GeoScience trial examining the economic and social benefits of a Satellite-Based Augmentation System for the Australasian region.

Geoscience Australia, as leader of the SBAS test project for the Australasia region, says it will overcome the current gaps in 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 and New Zealand.

The two-year project will test two new satellite positioning technologies including next-generation SBAS and Precise Point Positioning, which Geoscience says will provide positioning accuracies of several decimetres and five centimetres respectively.

Geoscience Australia is collaborating with Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) on the test-year project to improve the positioning capability of both countries.

As part of the project, the New Zealand Government has contributed an additional $2 million to the initial $12 million in funding from the Australian Government.

Geoscience Australia and LINZ are working closely with the Co-operative Research Centre for Spatial Information on the project and the CRCSI is overseeing the evaluation of the effectiveness of an SBAS for the region, and building expertise within government and industry on its transformative benefits.

The CRCSI has called for organisations from across the aviation, road, rail, maritime, spatial, construction, mining, utilities and agriculture sectors to participate.

At CQUniversity in Rockhampton — one of the first industry participants to sign on — Canavan said that in coming months, further contracts are expected to be signed covering more than 30 industry-based projects across 10 sectors examining real-world applications of three new satellite positioning technologies.

“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,” he 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.”

Canavan said the new technologies basically augmented and corrected the positioning signals already transmitted to Australia by constellations of international satellites like the United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS).

"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.

“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.”

And, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester said improving positioning technology also had the potential to provide safety, efficiency, capacity and environmental benefits for all transport sectors.

“Satellite-based technology is already used significantly in the aviation and maritime industries, however SBAS provides opportunities to increase the safe and productive use of this technology,” he said.

“Automated vehicle and train management systems also provide exciting opportunities for road and rail users in the future.”

The Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, said CQ University’s project would receive up to $180,000 in funding from the Australian and New Zealand Governments, with the project partners contributing an additional $105,000.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - an iTWire treasure is a mentor and coach who volunteers also a writer and much valued founding partner of iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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