Vehicle Tracking: New Technology for Cars, Drones and Cargo Precisely

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Vehicle Tracking: New Technology for Cars, Drones and Cargo Precisely

In many areas it is crucial to know the exact position of things: Autonomous trucks should warn drivers in their surroundings, first responders need to know exactly where critical medical drones are, and operators need to precisely locate precious cargo. Vodafone currently does tests to provide customers with applications that are able to do all that – and even more. For this purpose, the company partnered with global positioning provider Sapcorda. In a test they were able to remotely track a vehicle to within just 10 centimeters of its location – this is an improvement of more than three meters compared with current standard satellite-based systems.Vehicle Tracking

On the road as well as in factories, airports, dockyards and any other sites where machines are in motion, pinpoint accuracy is critical for the acceptance and mass adoption of autonomous vehicles. For example, a few centimeters can be crucial to ensure the safety of passengers on a driverless bus.
Vodafone Business Platforms and Solutions Director Justin Shields said:

We might not be able to locate a needle in a haystack yet, but we are getting close. What we can do now is take new digital services like this one, integrate it with our global IoT platform and fast networks, and offer it securely at scale to many millions of customers. Our in-building 5G and IoT services already allow manufacturing plants, research laboratories and factories to carry out critical, and often hazardous, precision work with robots. Now we are applying the same levels of accuracy to the outdoor world.

This is an example of how Vodafone currently works on redefining its network and technology on a ‘Telco as a Service’ (TaaS) model. By identifying key network capabilities and making them available through common APIs in a cloud platform, the company delivers new software, video and data applications at scale, in addition to gigabit-capable connectivity. Large enterprises may benefit hugely from these new technologies. Soon they will be able to exactly locate critical assets, precisely align machines like driverless trains at platforms and let farmers, airports, and fleet operators know the exact whereabouts of their autonomous vehicles, buggies and cars at any given time.
Combined with video and on-board diagnostics, the new technology will allow vehicle operators to carry out accurate location sensitive remote inspections and even pause machines such as grass cutters on public footpaths when they encounter people.
Vodafone is adopting the Precise Point Positioning – Real Time Kinematics (PPP-RTK) method with ground level GNSS stations to achieve very good error correction. GPS-Signals are processed and GNSS corrections are sent out to enhance the position accuracy of the vehicles receiving them. Vodafone is able to equip any number of vehicles with an in-built IoT SIM and deliver the positioning data at speed using its gigabit-capable networks.
The two companies recently put this to the test by tracking the exact lane that vehicles were travelling in during a combined journey of over 100 kilometers in real time – and in varying weather conditions. The data feed provided by Sapcorda enabled the GNSS signal to be corrected and to deliver the critical level of positional accuracy. A Precise Positioning Service will complement the asset tracking and fleet telematics solutions already provided by Vodafone Business for enterprise customers across 54 countries.

Author: Rainer Claaßen
Image Credit: Sapcorda

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