Gov launches trial of world-first satellite positioning tech

(Credit: CSIRO)

The Australian Government has launched a national trial of world-first satellite positioning technology. Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the first contracts with industry had been signed as part of a two-year trial examining the economic and social benefits of a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) for the Australasian region.

Minister Canavan was speaking in Rockhampton at CQUniversity Australia, one of the first industry participants to sign on.

“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.

“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,” he said.

Minister 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.”

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport 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,” Chester said.

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

Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said CQUniversity’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.

“You may start seeing cattle and sheep with special collars in Rockhampton and Longreach. The CQUniversity-led project is testing the construction of ‘virtual fencing’ for strip grazing, and looking at how the precise tracking of livestock can be used for early disease detection and more efficient breeding programs,” Landry said.