Geolocation: Innosuisse supports USI research

GPS Block IIIA satellite in orbit, Wikipedia
GPS Block IIIA satellite in orbit, Wikipedia

Institutional Communication Service

8 May 2018

Geolocation, i.e. the identification or estimation of the real-world geographic location of an object, over the years has become an increasingly common part in our daily lives, to the extent that these systems are now integrated into all devices, especially mobile phones. It is not surprising, therefore, that geolocation technologies also offer countless opportunities for scientific research and related applications. 

USI contributes significantly to technological progress in this domain, with a number of basic and applied research projects, often the result of collaboration with companies operating in the region. Dr. Alberto Ferrante, researcher at the USI Faculty of Informatics, is working on a project in this field together with ETH Zurich and the Ticino-based company Saphyrion Sagl.

The successful collaboration between Saphyrion and USI began initially with the development of hardware and software in a number of applications. Then, in 2017, the company once again turned to USI proposing a new collaboration to develop small, localisation devices that are considerably more precise than those dedicated to the consumer market (around 10m of accuracy). This led to the Makalu project, which received financial support from the Swiss innovation promotion agency Innosuisse (formerly KTI). The expected outcome of this project, lasting 22 months, will therefore be a high-precision positioning system based on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), enabling to determine geographical coordinates anywhere on the planet by processing signals transmitted by a network of satellites. The main objective is to develop a system that, despite using small devices, is adequately precise for some of the most demanding applications, for example the monitoring of the position of landslides.

This form of collaboration between the academic and business sectors is a typical win-win situation, where the former can continue to conduct research in innovative fields and stay in touch with the real needs of society, and the latter can develop new products and open to new market opportunities.