Precise positioning technology worth $6.2b to Australia

Anticipated SBAS economic benefits revealed

Credit: 153157452 © Nazarii Mandiuk

A project to enhance the accuracy of positioning services that use global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), such as GPS, could deliver $6.2 billion in economic benefits to Australia over the course of three decades.

A satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) can be used to significantly increase the accuracy of a GNSS by using ground-based infrastructure to correct errors in signals produced by satellite constellations such as GPS and the European Union’s Galileo.

A planned Australian SBAS is expected deliver positioning accuracy down to the level of 10 centimetres across the continent.

The 2018-19 federal budget included $160.9 million to establish the system. It followed a trial, launched in October 2017, of a joint Australia-New Zealand SBAS.

Earlier this week FrontierSI, which was formerly the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information, released a report prepared by Ernst & Young (EY) on the economic benefits of an SBAS for Australia and New Zealand, based on the experience of the SBAS testbed project.

EY said that it anticipated total benefits of $7.6 billion across Australia and New Zealand over a 30-year period. In Australia, the resources sector is expected to be the biggest beneficiary, reaping a quarter of the economic benefits delivered by an SBAS.

An SBAS could reduce accidents involving vehicles at mine sites by delivering greater positioning accuracy to collision avoidance systems (CAS), reducing “buffer zones” and false positives, EY said.

“In certain instances, vehicle-related accidents may not lead to serious harm or injury but still result in an out-of-commission vehicle,” the report states.

“Every hour a vehicle is out of commission represents an hour of lost productivity and therefore a cost to the mining operator. A consequence of reduced collisions is the anticipated reduction in vehicle downtime across mines, resulting in an operational saving for mining operators.”

Improved CAS could allow the speed of trucks to be increased, the report said. Other benefits to the sector could include boosting the efficiency of surveying, enhanced shovel productivity through better ore mapping, improved plant operating efficiency through better material management, and a reduction in environmental incidents through improved mapping of sensitive areas (allowing proximity alarms when a truck is close to an area with protected vegetation, for example).

Improved positioning could make it easier to locate loaders and shovels, as well as make it easier to track down vehicles and equipment that require maintenance.

The next biggest beneficiary in Australia is anticipated to be agriculture, EY found, enjoying 23 per cent of the expected SBAS benefits, followed by construction (17 per cent), road transport (15 per cent), and the maritime sector (9 per cent). Aviation, utilities, rail and consumers are expected to also benefit.

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Tags GPSGeoscience AustraliapositioningSBASSatellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) project

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