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From meters to centimetres – accuracy becomes a reality with our Precise Positioning Outdoor service

16 Feb 2021
Phil Skipper

Phil Skipper

Head of Strategy, Vodafone Business IoT

The future of an autonomous, connected, world revolves around one word: precision.

We see this already in hyper-accurate automated manufacturing, where millimetres matter. But what happens when we take this into the world of autonomous vehicles that drive themselves on our roads?

Whether we are talking about taxis, drones, cars, buses, forklifts or agricultural machines, they all need a very high degree of accuracy to ensure they can operate safely and effectively.

GPS, which we use for our satnavs, smartphones or fitness applications is not enough to guarantee the level of precision we need here; knowing exactly where you are is not that important when you are cycling from A to B, but it’s critical if you need to understand how far from the kerb an autonomous vehicle is.

This is where Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) can help. And that’s why, working with key providers in this space, like Sapcorda, we’ve developed the Vodafone Business Precise Positioning Outdoor Service (PPOS).

Precision, precision, precision

PPOS takes precision to a new level, from meters to centimetres, creating the location accuracy to support new mobility applications and services.

The PPOS solution is modular, so it’s easy to adapt to our customers’ needs. It’s aimed at maximising vehicle performance, efficiency, security and safety. And crucially, it’s available as an additional service on the Vodafone Business IoT global SIM, making it simple to adopt, provision and use.

So how does the solution actually work?

GNSS is the broad term used to talk about satellite navigation systems. We are all familiar with at least one of them, GPS, short for Global Positioning Systems, as it’s been used for years to offer position and time information for navigation and geolocation.

GPS connections use a limited number of satellites to triangulate position, however, and this means that the positioning is not always accurate enough for critical applications.

Data where data matters

What GNSS does is it connects satellites from other networks beyond GPS, such as Galileo. And more satellites mean increased accuracy and reliability. By linking GPS and the GNSS correction services over the air, positional errors are significantly reduced providing improved accuracy and precision.

The way GNSS works to power our precise positioning service is complex but fascinating.

GNSS satellites orbit Earth once every 11 hours, 58 minutes and 2 seconds at a medium-orbit altitude. Each satellite transmits coded signals which contain the satellite’s precise orbit details and a very stable timestamp from an atomic clock.

By combining multiple feeds, it makes it possible to calculate and correct errors caused by atmospheric delays and which affect global positioning satellites, offering businesses hyper-precise positioning.

Beyond connectivity

We connect over 110 million IoT devices work-wide and we offer location services across multiple industries from logistics and automotive to healthcare.

As the number of connected objects increases and the requirement to track, locate and position devices becomes more critical, adding GNSS services is the next step to offering our customers high-precision IoT services.

For us at Vodafone Business, connecting means so much more than just linking two things today. We want to deliver the performant systems that businesses need to be able to offer safer, future-ready, reliable managed solutions to their customers.

GNSS is a step into the future of autonomous mobility and one that gets us and our customers closer to building the transport systems of tomorrow.

Find out more about 5G’s role in creating self-driving vehicles and how we’re working with Volkswagen to imagine the car of the future.

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