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Australian Government launches trial of world-first satellite positioning technology

Australian Government launches trial of world first satellite positioning technology

The Australian Government has launched a national trial of
world-first satellite positioning technology.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan
said in Rockhampton yesterday
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

“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.”

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,” Mr. 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 AU$180,000 in funding from the Australian and New
Zealand Governments, with the project partners contributing an additional AU$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.

“It all sounds a bit technical but what we’re really talking
about is potentially increasing production and lowering costs for farmers.”

The SBAS trial is being managed by Geoscience
Australia in partnership with the global technology companies GMV, Inmarsat and
Lockheed Martin.

For more information on the SBAS trial, visit www.ga.gov.au.

Featured image by NASA.

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