Positioning Australia to continue SBAS transmissions

Max Blenkin

Positioning Australia has extended its trial of super accurate satellite positioning for another 12 months.

Positioning Australia to continue SBAS transmissions
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The organisation, part of Geoscience Australia, said it had secured an extension of the SBAS (satellite based augmentation system) test transmission services through to 31 July 2020.

Ongoing transmission will provide continuity of SBAS signals to support research and development industry testing and encourage early adoption in Australia and New Zealand, it said.

“Implementation of SBAS is challenging and complex but we are making good progress towards a fully operational capability,” Positioning Australia said.

“The decision to extend the current arrangement does not indicate a preference for the current providers of the test-bed and in no way disadvantages other potential suppliers. We remain committed to an open approach to market for the fully operational capability.”

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Positioning services through the use GPS satellite constellations are widely used and provide positioning accuracy of five-10 metres in most locations.

However, new technology can do much better, with positioning accuracy down to a few centimetres. That has a vast range of potential industry applications and benefits with research under way across Australia on how it can be applied.

As an example, Australia Post and Marathon Robotics, a company that makes robotic target systems for Army, are examining how it could be used for autonomous parcel delivery.

In May, Geoscience Australia invited submissions from industry partners to help build and operate the Australian SBAS. In the 2018-19 federal budget, it received funding of $160.9 million to support development of an operational SBAS over four years. This was part of $225 million allocated for better positioning systems across Australia.

The capability of SBAS is quite well understood, following a two-year trial supported by the Australian and New Zealand governments that concluded in January. 

That tested two new satellite positioning technologies – next-generation SBAS and Precise Point Positioning (PPP).

It involved an L-Band satellite transmitter operated by Inmarsat, satellite uplink capability at Uralla, NSW, operated by Lockheed Martin, a positioning correction service operated by GMV and Geoscience, a GNSS ground tracking infrastructure operated by Geoscience Australia and Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), and the development of a testing program delivered in partnership by Geoscience Australia and FrontierSI.

LINZ is overseeing the SBAS test-bed program in New Zealand.

SBAS capabilities already exist overseas with WAAS in the US and EGNOS in Europe.

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