​Lockheed Martin, Inmarsat, GMV join Geoscience Australia's positioning project

​The corporate giants have jumped on board the government-funded project to improve the accuracy of Australia's positioning.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Geoscience Australia has announced that United States defence giant Lockheed Martin, alongside Inmarsat and GMV, will be partaking in trials of a Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) to improve the accuracy of Australia's positioning.

The global giants will be assisting the government-funded national positioning project by testing two new satellite positioning technologies -- "next generation" SBAS and Precise Point Positioning -- which Geoscience Australia said provides positioning accuracies of several decimetres and five centimetres respectively.

"The SBAS test-bed is Australia's first exploratory step to joining countries such as the United States, Europe, China, Russia, India, and Japan, which are already using the technology on a daily basis," Gary Johnston from Geoscience Australia said.

"This technology hasn't been widely tested in Australia before, however GMV, Inmarsat, and Lockheed Martin have experience implementing it around the world."

Under the arrangement, the corporate giants will be responsible for the technical components of the SBAS test-bed, while Geoscience Australia along with the Australia and New Zealand Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI) will oversee the project on behalf of the Australian government.

According to Johnston, testing SBAS technology in Australia offers a number of potential safety, productivity, efficiency, and environmental benefits to industries such as transport, agriculture, construction, and resources.

Currently, Australia relies on the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) of other countries including the United States' Global Positioning System (GPS); however, these international systems typically give Australians positioning accuracy of five to 10 metres.

The SBAS test-bed will also utilise existing national GNSS infrastructure developed by AuScope as part of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.

The SBAS trial follows the AU$12 million funding injection from the federal government last month, awarded to help bolster the technology it expects to be leveraged by automated trains, as well as 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," Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester and Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matthew Canavan said in a joint statement.

In March, Geoscience Australia and the CRCSI will call for organisations from a number of industries including agriculture, aviation, construction, mining, maritime, road, spatial, and utilities to participate in the test-bed.

Lockheed Martin announced in August it would be spending AU$13 million over three years on its new research and development facility, The Science Technology Engineering Leadership and Research Laboratory (STELaR Lab) in Melbourne, aiming to solve the technology challenges of the future.

The defence giant previously partnered with Australia's Defence Science Technology Group (DST Group) to enhance cutting-edge Over-the-Horizon Radar (OTHR) technology, which monitors aircraft and ships in the country's northern maritime approaches, and drive advancements in new two-dimensional OTHR networks.

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