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Swiss-Japanese cooperation for precise position data

Swiss-Japanese cooperation for precise position data

The Japanese mobile operator Softbank Corp. and the Swiss-based chipmaker u-blox will jointly develop common augmentation services for Japan, the US, and Europe based on global navigation satellite systems (GNSS). The Japanese engineering provider ALES will provide data solutions.

Swiss-Japanese cooperation for precise position data

GNSS augmentation services allow for highly precise location data (Source: Pixabay CC0).

Swiss electronic components

Softbank provides the “ichimill” (one millimeter) GNSS augmentation service in Japan, its subsidiary ALES operates a business that generates and delivers positioning correction data. U-blox, a global provider of positioning services for the automotive, industrial, and consumer markets, delivers electronic components for wireless communications and the “PointPerfect” GNSS augmentation service in Europe, the USA, and other countries and regions.

Through this collaboration, SoftBank, ALES, and u-blox will construct GNSS augmentation infrastructure for Japan, Europe, and the USA, develop GNSS receivers and devices, and expand service areas. “Breaking down the geographical fragmentation of the market for high-precision GNSS solutions will allow Softbank to market the same product in the USA, Europe, and Japan,” said Makoto Noda, Vice President at Softbank and President of ALES.

Collaboration background

Since November 2019, Softbank has been offering “ichimill,” a GNSS augmentation service that offers highly accurate positioning with a margin of error of only a few centimeters in the Japanese market. In addition to providing technology that enables the generation and delivery of correction data, ALES has been offering its “Centimeter-level Positioning Service” to consumers in Japan since August 2020.

As a global technology leader in positioning and wireless communication, u-blox develops and provides a broad portfolio of chips and communication modules. From July 2021, u-blox began providing the GNSS augmentation service “PointPerfect” now available in the contiguous USA and Europe.

Regional contracts

Since GNSS augmentation services like these are mainly offered separately by country and region, client companies, which include global automotive manufacturers and agricultural machinery manufacturers, sign up for separate service contracts in each country and region, making GNSS receiver configuration more complex.

Franco De Lorenzo, Principal Product Manager, Services, at u-blox commented: “Our customers, which include automotive original equipment and Tier-1 manufacturers, depend on globally consistent GNSS augmentation services to sell vehicles across multiple markets. So do the manufacturers of industrial IoT devices and unmanned aerial and ground vehicles.”

Improved data correction

In 2022, Softbank, ALES, and u-blox will consider developing correction data delivery infrastructure that delivers unified correction signal formats for use in any country or region. Currently, data correction methods differ by country and region, and there is a wide variety of correction signal formats.

With this infrastructure, companies using “ichimill” or “PointPerfect” will be able to conduct GNSS augmentation if they are in the range of both services, which will eliminate the need for separate service contracts by country or region. The three companies will also consider jointly developing GNSS receivers and modules that can be used globally.

Text: SCCIJ based on a press release by Softbank Corp.

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