Australia to invest $12 million to test SBAS positioning technology

January 17, 2017  - By

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

The funding includes testing of satellite-based augmentation systems (SBAS) that can offer instant, accurate and reliable positioning technology. The improvements in positioning could provide future safety, productivity, efficiency and environmental benefits across many industries in Australia, including transport, agriculture, construction and resources.

The two-year project will test SBAS technology that has the potential to improve positioning accuracy in Australia to less than five centimeters. Currently, positioning in Australia is usually accurate to five to 10 meters. While highly accurate positioning technologies are already available in Australia, they are expensive and only available in specific areas and to niche markets.

Research has shown that the widespread adoption of improved positioning technology has the potential to generate upwards of $73 billion of value to Australia by 2030.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the program could test the potential of SBAS technology in the four transport sectors — aviation, maritime, rail and road.

“SBAS utilizes space-based and ground-based infrastructure to improve and augment the accuracy, integrity and availability of basic 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,” he said.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said access to more accurate data about the Australian landscape would also help unlock the potential of Northern Australia.

“This technology has potential uses in a range of sectors, including agriculture and mining, which have always played an important role in our economy, and will also be at the heart of future growth in Northern Australia,” Senator Canavan said. “Access to this type of technology can help industry and Government make informed decisions about future investments.”

The SBAS testbed will use 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 decimeters and five centimeters respectively.

The SBAS testbed is Australia’s first step towards joining countries such as the U.S., Russia, India, Japan and many across Europe in investing in SBAS technology and capitalizing on the link between precise positioning, productivity and innovation.

Early this year, Geoscience Australia with the Collaborative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI) will call for organizations from a number of industries including agriculture, aviation, construction, mining, maritime, rail, road, spatial and utilities to participate in the testbed.

For more information about the SBAS testbed and National Positioning Infrastructure Capability visit the Geoscience Australia website.

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