Vodafone developing new satellite technology that can locate Internet of Things devices and autonomous vehicles within centimetres

Vodafone developing new satellite technology that can locate Internet of Things devices and autonomous vehicles within centimetres.

  • Vodafone signs an agreement with Topcon Positioning Group, a multinational designer and manufacturer of precision positioning systems.
  • Both companies are now inviting select customers to join proof-of-concept activities to locate IoT devices, machinery, and vehicles.

Vodafone and Topcon Positioning Group are developing a new mass-market precise positioning system that will locate Internet of Things (IoT) devices, machinery, and vehicles with a greater degree of accuracy than using only individual global navigation satellites systems (GNSS).

Vehicles, scooters, and even robot lawn mowers can be securely monitored in real-time to within a few centimetres when connected to Vodafone’s global IoT network and using technology from Topcon which corrects inaccuracies from navigation satellite signals. Location accuracy is improved from a few metres to just centimetres using Topcon’s dense European network of thousands of GNSS reference stations, especially when vehicles and devices are fitted with suitable antennas and receiver equipment.

Vodafone and Topcon have agreed to advance customer trials and Vodafone is now inviting select customers to join pilot activities in Germany, Spain, and the UK, starting this month. The companies aim to test the service, called Vodafone GNSS Corrections, using a wide variety of devices connected to Vodafone’s global IoT network – one of the largest with more than 150 million connections – and its pan-European network which covers 12 countries.

Pinpoint accuracy is critical to the mass adoption of Vehicle to Anything (V2X) technology – the ability for vehicles to speak with other vehicles, road users, and infrastructure – driverless vehicles, as well as for autonomous machinery and robots. For example, e-bike riders could use Vodafone GNSS Corrections to provide details of their exact location and then alert other road users of their presence.

“As new technologies like autonomous cars and connected machinery continue to evolve, Vodafone is providing the critical connections to support these new services with greater precision, more safety and at scale. Our customers want to be able to better locate their devices, and the collaboration with Topcon complements our existing asset tracking and fleet telematics solutions.”

Justin Shields, Director of Vodafone Business Platforms & Solutions, said

“At Topcon, we are proud to be partnering with Vodafone to bring high accuracy correction services to enable V2X applications to operate at the accuracy needed to help improve road safety, especially for vulnerable road users.

Ian Stilgoe Vice President of Topcon Global Emerging Business said:

“Topcon’s extensive history providing precision positioning solutions makes it an ideal partner for Vodafone utilising the comprehensive Topnet Live GNSS network. Vodafone’s high accuracy services can also be used to improve positioning performance of many other autonomous applications such as drones, delivery robots and safety system wearables.”

“Topcon’s extensive history providing precision positioning solutions makes it an ideal partner for Vodafone utilising the comprehensive Topnet Live GNSS network. Vodafone’s high accuracy services can also be used to improve positioning performance of many other autonomous applications such as drones, delivery robots and safety system wearables.”

Vodafone GNSS Corrections also supports Vodafone’s efforts to improve V2X location accuracy, especially when sharing trusted data to help prevent unnecessary accidents and fatalities on Europe’s roads. As such Vodafone is offering precise positioning as a complement to Vodafone’s new Safer Transport for Europe Platform (STEP) which allows entities to communicate with each other where no line of sight exists. Unveiled in March 2022, STEP has been successfully tested in Germany and the UK and will be made available via Vodafone Automotive and third-party apps later this year.

Vodafone and Topcon together enable a high grade GNSS correction service because of their respective terrestrial footprints across Europe. Vodafone will offer a singular module configuration that can extend across national borders.

Topcon Positioning System offers cloud-based corrections which are then sent to vehicles and devices. In turn, these enable considerable improvement of location accuracies when in open sky conditions – a scenario where the receivers on the ground are positioned away from objects such as trees to avoid obstructions or reflections from a GNSS signal. To provide these precise positioning accuracies, a GNSS module needs also to compensate for inaccuracies caused by satellite constellations, receiver hardware and atmospheric conditions. These inaccuracies can be calculated by Topcon’s dense network of fixed reference stations that constantly receive GNSS data.

A Precise Positioning Service also complements the existing asset tracking and fleet telematics solutions already provided by Vodafone Business for enterprise customers across 54 countries.

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