Satellite Based Augmentation System

As part of the Australian Government's National Positioning Infrastructure (NPI) Capability, Geoscience Australia is leading a nation-wide test project of a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS).

An SBAS will overcome the current gaps in our mobile and radio communications and, when combined with on-ground operational infrastructure and services, will ensure that accurate positioning information can be received anytime and anywhere within Australia.

The two-year project will test two new satellite positioning technologies including next generation SBAS and Precise Point Positioning, which will provide positioning accuracies of several decimetres and five centimetres respectively.

Geoscience Australia is working with the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information on the test-bed project which will evaluate the effectiveness of an SBAS for Australia, and build expertise within Government and industry on its transformative benefits. The project is funded through the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, and Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

The project will see Australia join the USA, Europe, Russia, India and Japan who have all invested in infrastructure that delivers satellite-based corrections via an SBAS. By trialling next generation SBAS, Australia becomes a leader of SBAS technology in the Asia Pacific, particularly through the early adoption of this technology in emerging applications.

Positioning data has become fundamental to a range of applications and businesses worldwide. It increases our productivity, secures our safety and propels innovation; enables GPS on smartphones, provides safety-of-life navigation on aircraft, increases water efficiency on farms, helps to locate vessels in distress at sea, and supports intelligent navigation tools and advanced transport management systems that connect cities and regions.

In early 2017, Geoscience Australia will call for organisations from across the aviation, road, rail, maritime, spatial, construction, mining, utilities and agriculture sectors to participate in the test-bed. Information will be released via the Geoscience Australia website. To keep informed of the progress of the SBAS test-bed project, sign up to the NPI Capability newsletter.

Frequently asked Questions

A Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) utilises space-based and ground-based infrastructure to improve the accuracy, integrity and availability of basic Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals, such as those currently provided by the Global Positioning System (GPS).

SBAS already developed internationally include WAAS in the United States and EGNOS in Europe.

A SBAS has not been tested in Australia, although the technology is employed in countries around the world, including the United States, Europe, China, Russia, India and Japan. This test-bed will assess the application of SBAS technology and its safety, productivity, efficiency and innovation benefits to Australian industry and research sectors.

Testing will occur over two years and will evaluate the effectiveness and application of SBAS in nine main sectors: agriculture, aviation, construction, maritime, mining, rail, road, spatial, and utilities. The test-bed will address the specific requirements (including accuracy, integrity, availability) in applications areas in each of these industry sectors.

Components of the test-bed include:

  1. A L-Band satellite transmitter;
  2. The operations of a satellite uplink capability;
  3. A positioning correction service;
  4. The development and execution of a testing program, delivered in partnership by Geoscience Australia and the CRCSI.

The SBAS test-bed project will start in early 2017 and will be a two year project.

The SBAS test-bed will assess three specific technologies:

  1. Single frequency service SBAS, which is equivalent to WAAS (USA SBAS) and EGNOS (Europe SBAS). This technology will improve positioning of stand-alone GPS from 5 metre accuracy to better than 1 metre accuracy.
  2. Dual frequency/Multiple Constellation SBAS. This is the so-called next generation SBAS and will exploit the recent development of a civil frequency, known as L5 for GPS and E5a for Galileo. This capability will demonstrate significant performance improvements over single frequency SBAS, particularly in regions with dynamic ionosphere.
  3. Precise Point Positioning (PPP). PPP is a method that provides highly accurately position solutions with accuracy better than 10 centimetres.

The SBAS testing is designed to achieve three main objectives:

  1. Test the performance of the technology directly in a number of industries.
  2. Test the current industry-specific requirements and how they interact with the technology.
  3. Test future industry-specific innovations that might be borne out by the technology.

Ultimately, the test-bed will help determine if Australia should pursue the development of an operational SBAS.

The test-bed is a collaborative project. Implementation and oversight will come through Geoscience Australia and CRCSI.

Geoscience Australia is the Australian Government agency responsible for national GNSS-based positioning, navigation and timing.

Testing will be undertaken by university, government and private sector industry organisations. In early 2017, a call will be made for Expressions of Interests in developing testing experiments. Some funding through the CRCSI will be available to support this.

Testing is expected to be conducted throughout the land and maritime jurisdictions of Australia.

In early 2017, Geoscience Australia will call for organisations from across the aviation, road, rail, maritime, spatial, construction, utilities and agriculture sectors to participate in the test-bed.

Expressions of Interest will be advertised on our website and through the NPI Capability newsletter. To keep informed of the NPI Capability and its progress, sign up to the NPI Capability newsletter.

Proposals for supported projects will be selected on merit, as determined by a review committee.

All information about the NPI Capability, including the SBAS testing will be published on our website www.ga.gov.au/npic, and included in our NPI Capability newsletter. To keep informed of the NPI Capability and its progress, sign up to the NPI Capability newsletter.

Geoscience Australia currently operates a national Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) network. Data from Geoscience Australia's network, which include the AuScope GNSS array, will be provided to a computation facility, also located at Geoscience Australia. Corrections will then be sent to a ground station, for upload to a satellite. The satellite, will then broadcast the corrections over the Australian region.

The SBAS test-bed will not be certified for safety-of-life use. Importantly, the test signals will not put existing services at risk, especially safety-of-life services such as aircraft navigation.

The SBAS signals are defined in the RTCA DO-229D standard. Built into the SBAS message set is a specific provision for broadcasting signals that are not authorised for safety-of-life applications. Message Type 0 declares that the signal is not to be used for safety-of-life applications.

SBAS capable avionics approved for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) navigation are certified against the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) TSO-C145 or TSO-C146 standards. Both of these standards adhere to DO-229D meaning IFR approved avionics are certified to honour Message Type 0. Thus, IFR SBAS capable avionics will ignore the test-bed signal. Practical demonstration of this occurred during the WAAS (USA SBAS) and EGNOS (Europe SBAS) test phase. For aviation testing a selection of avionics which have been modified (outside of certification) to ignore Message Type 0 will be used to ensure that the signal broadcast can be tested to meet official safety requirements.


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