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Vodafone successfully trials highly accurate tracking technology
by Paul Hill
Vodafone has trialled a new satellite-based tracking technology that works with its Internet of Things (IoT) platform to track vehicles, drones and cargo with an accuracy of 10 centimetres. The company said that this is a dramatic improvement over current standard satellite-based systems which are accurate to three metres (300 centimetres).
Using Sapcorda’s enhanced satellite navigation system and its own IoT platform, Vodafone says that the tracking technology will be deployable on transport where its necessary to know the precise location of a vehicle. In the case of first responders, the firm said medics will be able to track the location of drones carrying supplies such as blood.
Commenting on the news, Vodafone Business Platforms and Solutions Director Justin Shields said:
By coupling Vodafone’s IoT platform and Sapcorda’s Global Navigation System Service (GNSS) any inaccuracies caused by the curvature of the earth, the atmosphere and clock differences on the satellites can be resolved. Vodafone says that when its new system is coupled with video and on-board diagnostics, vehicle operators will be able to carry out inspections and pause machines remotely when needed.
The firm didn’t announce pricing for the new service, only that it will complement existing solutions that it provides to business customers across 54 countries.
UN and UK sign agreement on space sustainability
by Paul Hill
The United Nations and the United Kingdom have signed an agreement that promotes the safe and sustainable use of space “for future generations.” It’s hoped that the agreement will help reduce the risk of collisions between space debris and vital space satellites as well as find a way to deal with satellite constellations that disrupt other space activities such as astronomy.
Of course, signing an agreement is only a declaration, that’s why the UK has also created an £85,000 fund that will help to fund events and outreach programmes that promote the safe and sustainable use of outer space. The UK’s efforts will also help inform the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and will help all those involved with space to implement measures to achieve the agreement’s framework: the Guidelines for the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities (LTS guidelines).
Commenting on the agreement, UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:
The most high-profile satellite constellation is SpaceX’s Starlink which has begun beaming internet down to the Earth for a hefty price. Some major telescope operations have said that they can compensate for the satellites but others have complained that it makes astronomy more difficult. The increase in space satellites also increases the chances of a collision with space debris.
By Abhay V
Galaxy Note20's One UI 2.5 lets Android gesture navigation work on third-party launchers
by Abhay Venkatesh
Samsung recently announced a bunch of new devices, including the Galaxy Note20 series, the Z Fold 2, the Tab S7 duo, and more. The Note20 series runs the company’s One UI 2.5 software, and one feature that the firm’s adaptation of Android 10 finally brings is the ability to use full-screen gesture navigation on third-party launchers. This was confirmed earlier this year by a Samsung Community moderator and is a welcome addition.
One UI 2.0 brought Android’s full-screen gesture navigation feature to Samsung’s Galaxy flagships, along with other improvements such as enhancements to the quick settings panel, camera UI changes, and more. However, the ability to use these navigation gestures with other Android launchers was not present. The minor One UI 2.1 update did not debut that feature either. Users could only use Samsung’s gesture navigation solution with other launchers, with the full-screen implementation greyed out.
The limitation was not just specific to Samsung devices, since Pixel phones running stock Android 10 too did not support the feature at launch. While the Pixel 4 launched with the feature, Google added it to older devices via the monthly security patch in December last year. As per Android Police, developers realized that the change was a major one, which is why OEMs were not expected to introduce the feature right away. That could explain the delay for Samsung as well.
While the Note20 series comes with One UI 2.5 out of the box, it is unlikely that Samsung will serve an update for One UI 2.5 to older flagships, especially with Android 11 slated to be released to the S20 series later this year. It will not be surprising if the feature is rolled into the Android 11-based One UI version. Therefore, the wait for other Galaxy phone users could be slightly longer.
Source: Android Police
UK government to acquire OneWeb for $500 million
by Paul Hill
Several months after OneWeb filed for bankruptcy, the UK government has now announced that it has acquired the firm by means of a government-led consortium. It has provided $500 million while Bharti Global has stumped up a further $500 million. According to the announcement, the acquisition puts the UK “at the cutting-edge of the latest advances in space technology.”
Business Secretary Alok Sharma confirmed that the $500 million investment leaves the government with a significant equity share in OneWeb. Bharti Global will provide the company with commercial and operational leadership and aim to get the company set up with a steady revenue base that will “contribute towards its future success.”
With the new money, the company will be able to complete the construction of its global satellite constellation which will bring broadband and other services to countries around the world. The UK says this acquisition opens up strategic opportunities across a wide range of other applications too.
Commenting on the move, Sharma said:
Since 2010, the government says that the sector has been a success story growing over 60%. It said that the sector already supports £300 billion of UK economic activity through the use of satellite services and this is only expected to grow further. Under the agreement, the government will have the final say over any future sale of the company and it’ll be able to control which countries around the world can gain access based on national security grounds.
Fourth major global navigation system set to be completed this month
by Paul Hill
Reuters has reported that China’s BeiDou satellite network is set to be completed at some point this month. The date of the final satellite launch isn’t known yet, but once complete, the constellation will have better global coverage. The network has both military and civilian applications like other constellations.
China has been launching BeiDou satellites since 2000, completing BeiDou-1 by 2003; BeiDou-1 covered China and several surrounding countries. By 2012, BeiDou-2 superseded BeiDou-1 and consisted of 35 satellites and served much of Asia and Oceania. BeiDou-3, the system set to be completed this month, comprises of three GEO satellites, three IGSO satellites and twenty-four MEO satellites. Together these provide global coverage.
BeiDou is already supported by a lot of mobile devices. They use BeiDou satellites as well as GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellites to help you find your location; the more satellites there are, the more accurately they can pinpoint you even if you’re in an area with tall buildings that obstruct your phone’s line of view with satellites.
Of course, the Chinese military will also be able to use the satellites for its operations. According to Reuters, BeiDou is accurate to 10 cm in the Asia-Pacific compared to GPS’s 30 cm range. The European Union’s Galileo is still more accurate than both, giving the public 1-metre accuracy and 1 cm accuracy for the military.
Overall, as far as average consumers are concerned, BeiDou’s completion is a positive step forward. With internet-connected devices expected to boom in the coming decades, things like self-driving cars and other technologies that rely on navigation satellites should get more reliable information from the greater number of satellites in orbit.