14 August 2018

SBAS construction and aviation news

Our Satellite Based Augmentation System test-bed project has had some recent press through the successful testing results in the construction industry, with Position Partners and UNSW. With an article appearing in this month's Azimuth Magazine. And there were several follow-ups from the aviation sector through Airservices Australia. Including an article in The Australian and one in Australian Aviation.  

Article in Azimuth Magazine

SBAS Demonstrator Project for Construction

Construction sites can be full of hazards, even when safety is well managed. There are a lot of moving parts: people, machinery, and vehicles, all working in close proximity. It is why there are workers whose sole responsibility is site safety, it is why every worker and visitor must attend a site induction.

There are over 1.1 million workers in the construction industry[1] across Australia. Whether it’s a residential housing development, a towering skyscraper, a mine, or a house renovation – safety on work sites is a top priority for the construction industry.

Using new Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) technology, Australia and New Zealand are working together to help improve safety for workers and equipment by making positioning technology more accurate and cheaper for users.

SBAS will provide safer and better managed job sites, with specific applications including: avoidance of collisions between personnel and machinery; improved monitoring of vehicles and cranes to avoid infrastructure or exclusion zones; and the overall protection of construction workers, equipment and the public on and around construction sites.

So what is SBAS?

Geoscience Australia's SBAS project manager, Dr John Dawson says the technology utilises space- and ground-based infrastructure to improve the accuracy, integrity and availability of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) signals, such as those currently provided by the Global Positioning System (GPS).

“Positioning data is crucial for a range of applications and businesses worldwide, from mobile phone communications to cargo transport and everything in between,” Dr Dawson says.

“We’ve already seen some great results from SBAS test-bed projects in the construction industry. And by 2020, precise positioning technology in the construction sector is estimated to increase output by between $1,430 million and $2,507 million with further adoption of augmented GNSS supported applications and expansion of GNSS services[2].

“It allows site surveying to be better integrated with building activities and ensures earth moving equipment is guided precisely to plan. Because of this it was quickly embraced for site surveying, machine guidance, and asset management,” Dr Dawson says.

“Precise positioning makes construction sites safer through continuous tracking of personnel and equipment. Knowing where people and equipment are located, and importantly, where they are in relation to each other, can avoid accidents, save lives, and reduce disruption to the public by construction tasks being undertaken more efficiently.”

As part of the Australian Government's Positioning for the Future Program, the trial of SBAS for the Australasian region is testing three new technologies – first and second generation SBAS and Precise Point Positioning. The trial was funded with $12 million from the Australian Government and a further $2 million from the New Zealand Government.

On behalf of the Australian Government, Geoscience Australia, in partnership with Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI), are working with more than 100 organisations and businesses from 10 industry sectors to test the economic and social benefits of improved positioning technology.

One of the SBAS construction projects is being managed by one of Australia’s premier providers of positioning and machine control solutions, Position Partners, with the data analysis being carried out by researchers at the University of New South Wales. Dr Johnson Xuesong Shen, Lecturer, Engineering Construction and Management Director, Intelligence in Construction Laboratory at UNSW who is leading the data analysis says that at present, standalone GPS is not as accurate as it needs to be for more advanced uses. Right now, it’s accurate to within 5-10 metres. The trial is looking at more precise technologies to improve accuracy to ten centimetres.

“Imagine this scenario: a receiver, placed on a hardhat, could precisely track the position of a worker in real-time, in relation to excavations, open sections of rooftop, and heavy machinery working nearby. This receiver could communicate with, say, a ‘geosensor’ placed on a heavy vehicle, and could simply bring the vehicle to a stop before it comes into contact with the worker,” Dr Xuesong Shen says.

“Or perhaps a worker is coming dangerously close to an open excavation, or a piece of heavy equipment. They could receive an alert in their helmet, to tell them what’s happening in relation to where they are, long before it becomes a life-threatening situation.”

Dr Dawson concludes: “I think anyone who has worked on a construction site would agree that in instances like this, the difference between positioning accuracy of five to ten centimetres, as opposed to five or ten metres, is more than just numbers on a page. It could literally mean the difference between life and death.

“Geoscience Australia is proud to be at the forefront of a project that not only has the potential to save businesses and governments millions of dollars, but a project that could contribute to saving someone’s life. It does not get more real, or more important than that.”

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