CQU first to trail 'world-first' satellite positioning
CQUNIVERSITY has become one of the test sites for the trial of a world-first satellite positioning technology known as Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS).
The university's vice-chancellor and president, Scott Bowman, said yesterday that the Geoscience Australia project would fit in well with their agricultural research and cement their position as one of the great universities for agricultural sciences in Australia.
"I think this project will add incredible benefits for agriculture particularly the cattle industry here in Central Queensland, but much wider afield as well," Mr Bowman said.
Senator and Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, announced that the university was a perfect fit for the trial, as it is "at the cutting edge of agricultural science at the moment" and the SBAS program is at the "forefront of science with industrial applications".
"We're doing some trials at the moment here at CQUniversity but with other partners around the country to improve the accuracy of our GPS based system...in Australia today it is only accurate within 10 metres," Mr Canavan said.
Through a $12 million investment from the Australian Government and a $2 million investment from the New Zealand government, Geoscience is aiming to improve GPS accuracy from 10 metres down to as low as 10 centimetres.
"In the first stage, we'll get that down to about half-a-metre's accuracy and with the next stage of trials we're hoping to get it down to 10 centimetres," Mr Canavan said.
For Central Queensland farmers, this means that they will be able to locate their cattle more easily and be able to manage them more efficiently through the implementation of the SBAS technology onto cattle tags and collars.
Through Geoscience's trial of grazing without fences, the grazing industry will also see prices cut when the technology rolls out commercially within the next five years.
There is also the opportunity to accommodate many other applications such as mine sites, factories, and for everyday Australians at home.
"It is one of the most pre-eminent government agencies in this country. It is world leading in and of itself. I'm very proud to be the minister responsible for Geoscience Australia. They take all of all our mapping, our resource estimates around the country. This is one of the things they're doing."
Geoscience Australia's Dr James Johnson said that the collaboration between Australia and New Zealand is being managed by Geoscience Australia and the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information, in partnership with global technology companies GMV, Inmarsat and Lockheed Martin.
"The Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information is managing the industry projects which will trial, evaluate and report on the benefits and applications relevant to their business and sector," said Dr Johnson.
"More than ever before, we rely on satellite position technology such as SBAS to conduct our daily tasks. From using Google maps or your Tom Tom to get from point A to point B, to keep our communities safe, and helping reduce lower costs and reduce waste in industry.
"We can all check in, as it were, on Facebook at CQUniversity due to satellite positioning systems.
"In a world where driver-less cars are a reality now rather than an invention of science fiction, the SBAS trial not only asks the question 'why does Australia need improvement satellite positioning technology', but also how can we grow and benefit from it."
Geoscience Australia are testing three technologies: first generation SBAS, second generation SBAS and precise point positioning, with the first generation SBAS technology currently providing accuracy to within half-a-metre.
In September, the second generation SBAS signal was activated, making Australia not only the first place in the world to transmit second generation SBAS signals but also Precise Point Positioning.
It has been revealed that the experimental Precise Point Position capability provides accuracy down to 10 centimetres.
"At a basic level, these three technologies all work in the same way," said Dr Johnson.
"They augment and correct the positional signals already transmitted to Australia by international systems and improve not only the accuracy but also the integrity, continuity, and availability."
Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, said that the university's project would receive up to $180,000 in funding from the Australian and New Zealand governments, and $105,000 from the project partners involved.
"You may start seeing cattle and sheep with special collars in Rockhampton and Longreach," Ms Landry said. "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 it potentially increasing production and lowering costs for farmers."
The research centre received 86 applications to participate in the trial.