Curtin Uni researchers combine GPS with Beidou satellites

Integration means more precise location services in cities and mines

Australians may soon have more luck pinpointing their location in cities on mapping apps thanks to an effort to link GPS with Chinese satellites, by Curtin University and the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI).

Skyscrapers can block GPS signals because the satellites used to find the user’s location are positioned at a low angle in the sky, according to Curtin University professor Peter Teunissen. The same problem occurs in open pit mines, he said.

Teunissen and the CRCSI believe they can eliminate that problem by mixing GPS with a new Chinese satellite system called Beidou. Curtin University researchers previously discovered how to integrate GPS with Galileo, another global navigation satellite system.

“By combining GPS with Beidou we are making use of Beidou’s 14 new satellites that cross our sky at a high angle, increasing satellite availability, improving positioning capability and ultimately creating a system that is perfect for both urban and mining environments,” Teunissen said.

Beidou is still in development, with 35 satellites expected to be fully operational by 2020. Several other countries are also developing global navigation satellite systems, and more than 100 GNSS satellites are expected to be operation by 2016.

“The emergence of these new GNSSs, together with the linking of different systems, has enormous potential for improving the accuracy, integrity and efficiency of positioning worldwide, enabling much more reliable data,” Teunissen said.

Precise positioning services could boost Australia’s GDP by $13.7 billion by 2020, according to a recent report by ACIL Allen Consulting for the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. The report said the mining, agricultural, construction and surveying industries would benefit most.

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