GMV has provided support for SBAS-Africa, a project being primed by satellite-technology firm AVANTI.
The project, which started in September 2015, has enabled the deployment of an SBAS demonstrator to show the potential benefits of this technology in southern and eastern Africa. SBAS improves the positioning accuracy and integrity provided by any Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) such as GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and Beidou. SBAS has already been rolled out in the United States (WAAS) and the European Union (EGNOS), with similar initiatives also underway in other countries like India (GAGAN), Japan (MSAS) and Russia (SDCM).
The SBAS-Africa program is co-funded by the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) through its International Partnerships Space Program (IPSP); its main contractors are GMV, NSL, Pildo Labs and Thales Alenia Space UK; another crucial collaborator is the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). During the project’s initial phase, ending last April, the demo system provided real SBAS signal coverage throughout the whole of South Africa by means of AVANTI’s geostationary satellite ARTEMIS.
The deployed SBAS demonstrator comprises three main components: GMV’s in-house processing, correction-generating and integrity-monitoring system magicSBAS; a network of GNSS monitoring stations deployed throughout the region by NS; and the geostationary satellite ARTEMIS, furnished by AVANTI.
During November 2015, GMV deployed the magicSBAS system on AVANTI’s facilities at Goonhilly Gateway Earth Station (UK). Once connected to the network of stations deployed in South Africa, magicSBAS generates real time corrections and integrity-monitoring messages for all GPS satellites visible in the region.
Afterwards, in February 2016, GMV was involved in the integration of various subsystems, including a GMV-developed safety monitor, in the ground station of Makarios (Cyprus), from where magicSBAS messages, once transformed into the radio frequency signal, are sent to the ARTEMIS satellite.
The demonstrator has enabled a series of tests and demos to be carried out for sectors such as air-, sea- and road-transport, agriculture and geomatics. GMV took part in these trials and also in the presentation of the results to the competent South African authorities in the various sectors; this was done in a series of workshops carried out in Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg in April. The tests and demos conducted with the civil-aviation community brought out several operational benefits of SBAS technology, such as increased safety in aircraft-landing operations, reduction of take-off and landing times in conditions of poor visibility, a potential reduction in cancelled or delayed flights, reduction in accidents, lower operating costs and shorter trip times.
In the maritime area, SBAS technology has applications in coastal and oceanic navigation, access to ports and port operations, fleet monitoring and management, fisheries protection, marine leisure, search and rescue operations and the management of ocean resources, etc. Potential benefits include a reduction in stranding and collisions and an increase in the efficiency of search and rescue operations.
In agriculture, SBAS technology has applications in the control and monitoring of farmyard assets and soil and crop monitoring. Potential benefits include a reduction in the environmental impact of farming, reduction in farming costs, improvements in crop yields, increase in productivity driven by a more efficient use of equipment and improvements in crop management.
As for rail transport, SBAS technology has applications in on-board passenger information systems, command and control systems, traffic management and signalling and also railway- line checks and inspections. Potential benefits include global improvements in operational safety and efficiency and a reduction in signalling infrastructure costs.
In the road-transport sector, SBAS technology has advantages in integral management of transport fleets and vehicles, intelligent vehicle safety systems, eCall systems (automatic emergency calls), e-tolling systems and traffic management.
In the field of geomatics, SBAS technology has direct applications in topographical and cadastral surveying and cartography. Potential benefits include improved field measurement precision and a better enforcement of land ownership laws.
Rollout of an SBAS signal in an African country is a feat of special importance in this first demonstration phase, showcasing local authorities and future users the potential benefits of this technology.