Looking High in the Sky from Down Under

August 29, 2013  - By

A few months ago I wrote in the magazine’s Out in Front column about the surprising abundance of BeiDou-centric papers to be presented at the upcoming ION GNSS+ conference, to which I very much look forward — both the abundance and the conference as a whole. With GLONASS encountering stormy weather of late, and Galileo plugging steadily along but not quite making up time, it seems increasingly possibly that the first GNSS of choice may constitute GPS+BeiDou, if certain spectrum questions can be worked out. News of an advance in Australia further heralds this likelihood.

Researchers at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia, have put forth a method integrating GPS and BeiDou signals, in an effort particularly aimed at urban canyons. In Australia at least, the visibility of BeiDou’s five geostationary and five inclined geosynchronous orbit satellites hovering above the Asia-Pacific region can bring added punch to any receiver experiencing skyviews obscured by skyscrapers. The same problem occurs in open-pit mines, said Curtin University professor Peter Teunissen. Open-pit mines are a very big thing in Australia.

For those surprised to find this flying Dutchman, the inventor of the LAMBDA method for GNSS carrier phase ambiguity resolution, popping up in Australia, it appears he has a secondary appointment at Curtin University.  He remains based, as he has for 20 years, at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, where he is head of the Department of Earth Observation and Space Systems.

I wish I had a secondary appointment somewhere.

“By combining GPS with Beidou,” announced Teunissen and colleagues at the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information, “we are making use of Beidou’s 14 new satellites that cross our sky at a high angle, increasing satellite availability, improving positioning capability and ultimately creating a system that is perfect for both urban and mining environments.”

Beidou of course has a ways to go to achieve its fullness at 35, perhaps as soon as 2020. Combining all and sundry GNSS, more than 100 GNSS satellites are expected to be operational by 2016, so algorithms making use of multiple signals and systems have moved to the fore. As we well know.

“The emergence of new GNSSs, together with the linking of different systems, has enormous potential for improving the accuracy, integrity and efficiency of positioning worldwide, enabling much more reliable data,” Teunissen added.

Precise positioning services could boost Australia’s gross domestic product by $13.7 billion by 2020, according to a recent report by a consultant for the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. (Maybe that’s where I should seek my secondary appointment; they’ve got a lot on their plate.)

In January of this year, Teunissen’s Curtin University group and Dr Dennis Odijk, from the Western Australian School of Mines (WASM), also announced a methodology integrating GPS with Galileo signals. Both projects were funded by the Australian Space Research Program.


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About the Author:

Alan Cameron is editor-in-chief and publisher of GPS World magazine, where he has worked since 2000. He also writes the monthly GNSS Design & Test e-Newsletter and the Wide Awake blog.

1 Comment on "Looking High in the Sky from Down Under"

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  1. John Koles says:

    Hi Alan, Perhaps one of the reason Peter chose Curtin is that Perth is a great place to live! The surveying course too is exceptional. I see the maths that my son has to do to pass his licenced Curtin surveyors course. My team and I are heavily in Mine Machine guidance using new GIS Algorithms instead of CAD.It shows alot of promise as it allows far more function and the cost savings are huge. At present My website is outdated and does not reflect what we are doing now. A new website with EEMIS (Exploration Earthworks Management Information System) suite of products will go live soon. I have more information in LinkedIn.
    John Koles