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Vodafone tests new tech that can track vehicles, drones and precious cargo remotely within centimetres

16 Feb 2021Press Release

Tech key to safe adoption of autonomous vehicles, flying objects and machinery

Autonomous trucks need to warn e-bikes of their presence to avoid accidents, first responders need to know the position of critical medical drones with pinpoint accuracy, and operators need to precisely locate precious cargo. Vodafone customers will have applications that do all that and more thanks to a new technology it is testing.

Vodafone has successfully used new precision positioning technology to remotely track a vehicle to within just 10 centimetres of its location, an improvement of more than three metres compared with current standard satellite based systems.  It did this in partnership with leading global positioning provider Sapcorda, using Vodafone’s global Internet of Things (IoT) platform – the largest in the world with 118 million connections.

Pinpoint accuracy is critical to the acceptance and mass adoption of autonomous vehicles not just on the road but in factories, airports, dockyards and any site where machines are in motion. A matter of centimetres could be crucial to ensuring the safety of passengers on a driverless bus, or knowing the precise location of a medical drone. It will also allow an autonomous truck to mind other road users, including cyclists, whose e-bikes can automatically transmit their position and intended direction of travel.

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.”

The new precise positioning service is another example of how Vodafone is 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, Vodafone is delivering new software, video and data applications at scale, in addition to gigabit-capable connectivity.

Vodafone believes that large enterprises will benefit hugely from these new technologies. For example, they will be better able to locate critical assets, precisely align machines such as 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.

Vodafone IoT-enabled vehicles, machinery and devices, when linked with Sapcorda’s comprehensive network of Global Navigation System Service (GNSS) receivers and augmentation technology, improves location accuracy by correcting for things like the curvature of the earth, atmospheric delays and clock differences of global positioning satellites. This offers corporations hyper-precise positioning which they can utilise to ensure a safe environment for their employees, their customers, the public and their machines.

Combined with video and on-board diagnostics, the technology will also 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.


Note to Editors

Vodafone is adopting the Precise Point Positioning – Real Time Kinematics (PPP-RTK) method with ground level GNSS stations to achieve the best error correction.  Signals from global positioning satellites 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.

Vodafone recently put this to the test by tracking in real-time the exact lane that vehicles were travelling in during a combined journey of over 100 kilometres in varying weather conditions. Sapcorda provided the data feed, which enabled the GNSS signal to be corrected, to deliver the critical level of positional accuracy. A Precise Positioning Service complements the existing asset tracking and fleet telematics solutions already provided by Vodafone Business for enterprise customers across 54 countries.


For further information:

Vodafone Group

Media Relations
[email protected]

Investor Relations
[email protected]


About Vodafone

Vodafone is a leading telecommunications company in Europe and Africa. Our purpose is to “connect for a better future” and our expertise and scale gives us a unique opportunity to drive positive change for society. Our networks keep family, friends, businesses and governments connected and – as COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated – we play a vital role in keeping economies running and the functioning of critical sectors like education and healthcare.

Vodafone is the largest mobile and fixed network operator in Europe and a leading global IoT connectivity provider. Our M-Pesa technology platform in Africa enables over 45m people to benefit from access to mobile payments and financial services. We operate mobile and fixed networks in 21 countries and partner with mobile networks in 48 more. As of 31 December 2020 we had over 300m mobile customers, more than 27m fixed broadband customers, over 22m TV customers and we connected more than 118m IoT devices. 

We support diversity and inclusion through our maternity and parental leave policies, empowering women through connectivity and improving access to education and digital skills for women, girls, and society at large. We are respectful of all individuals, irrespective of race, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, belief, culture or religion.

Vodafone is also taking significant steps to reduce our impact on our planet by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2025 and becoming net zero by 2040, purchasing 100% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and reusing, reselling or recycling 100% of our redundant network equipment.

For more information, please visit www.vodafone.com, follow us on Twitter at @VodafoneGroup or connect with us on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/vodafone.

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