​Connected cars to benefit from Australia's AU$12m positioning technology boost

As the global race to produce automated trains and connected cars continues, the Australian government has injected AU$12 million into a two-year positioning technology project that such innovations are expected to benefit from.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The federal government has announced a AU$12 million investment to boost Australia's positioning technologies, which it expects to be leveraged by automated trains, as well as driverless and connected cars.

In a joint statement, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester and Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matthew Canavan said the funding will be used to test instant, accurate, and reliable positioning technology. The pair expects this tech will provide future safety, productivity, efficiency, and environmental benefits across many industries in addition to transport, including agriculture, construction, and resources.

The two-year project led by Geoscience Australia will include the testing of Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) across the aviation, maritime, rail, and road sectors.

"SBAS utilises space-based and ground-based infrastructure to improve and augment the accuracy, integrity, and availability of basic Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals, such as those currently provided by the USA Global Positioning System (GPS)," Chester said.

"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."

According to the government, the widespread adoption of improved positioning technology has the potential to generate upwards of AU$73 billion of value to Australia by 2030.

"From using Google Maps on your smartphone to emergency management and farming, most Australians use and benefit from positioning technology every day without realising it," the ministers said.

Currently, positioning in Australia is usually accurate to five to 10 metres; however, the project will test SBAS technology that has the potential to improve positioning accuracy to less than five centimetres.

The SBAS test-bed will utilise existing national GNSS infrastructure developed by AuScope as part of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy. It will also test next generation SBAS and Precise Point Positioning, which provide positioning accuracies of several decimetres and five centimetres, respectively.

Geoscience Australia expects organisations from the aviation, road, rail, maritime, spatial, construction, mining, utilities, and agriculture sectors to participate in the test-bed that will kick-off shortly, with information on the project to be released via the Geoscience Australia website once available.

It was reported last year by the ABC that the Australian continent was moving faster than experts at Geoscience Australia could keep up with.

As Australia sits on the fastest moving continental tectonic plate in the world, the ABC said coordinates measured in the past continue changing over time. The continent moves north by about seven centimetres each year, the report said, colliding with the Pacific Plate, which is moving west about 11 centimetres each year.

Additionally, the report said the framework used to measure spatial information such as transportation, personal navigation, and surveying was last updated in 1994.

In 2014, the government launched the National Map Open Data Initiative, which combined a visual map of Australia with the data sets released by the government under the open data policy, including Australian Bureau of Statistics data, Bureau of Meteorology data, and data sets from data.gov.au.

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