New positioning system can locate IoT devices, machinery and vehicles with more accuracy

Graham Hope

September 7, 2022

2 Min Read

Vodafone’s new partnership with California’s Topcon Positioning Group could bring major benefits to road safety.

The pair is working together to develop a new mass-market positioning system that can locate IoT devices, machinery and vehicles with more accuracy than is currently provided by individual global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).

According to Vodafone, this will allow vehicles, scooters and even the likes of robot lawn mowers to be securely monitored in real time to within a few inches – rather than feet –when connected to Vodafone’s IoT network and using Topcon technology that corrects inaccuracies from navigation satellite signals provided by a network of thousands of GNSS reference stations.

The Topcon system provides cloud-based corrections which are sent to vehicles and devices. They then derive accurate locations in “open sky” conditions – when receivers on the ground are not close to obstructions such as trees or reflections from a GNSS signal. Location accuracy is improved further when vehicles and devices are fitted with suitable antennas and receiver equipment.

The service, which will be called Vodafone GNSS Corrections, will be tested using a wide variety of devices connected to Vodafone’s global IoT network – which is one of the largest in the world with more than 150 million connections – and its pan-European network, which covers 12 countries. 

It’s hoped the partnership could help accelerate the uptake of Vehicle to Everything (V2X) technology. This allows vehicles to communicate with other vehicles, road users and infrastructure but requires pinpoint accuracy to be adopted at scale.

Vodafone says the new system would allow e-bike users, for example, to alert other road users of their presence by providing details of their exact location. 

This has obvious potential to reduce road accidents, and we have already seen how some companies, such as Audi, have demonstrated V2X’s ability to enhance safety on tests with school buses and emergency vehicles.

Trials of Vodafone GNSS Corrections will start later this month in Germany, the U.K. and Spain, with selected customers being invited to join a pilot program.

“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,” said Justin Shields, director of Vodafone Business Platforms and Solutions. “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.”

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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