Vodafone Rolls Out Centimeter-Level Positioning Service to Locate Vehicles, Drones and Cargo
Working With Sapcorda to Deliver Precise Positioning Service
A new partnership hopes to bring centimeter-level positioning to autonomous vehicles, medical drones and precious cargo. Vodafone and Sapcorda recently tested the technology to remotely track a vehicle to within just 10 centimeters, the company said.
The companies used Vodafone's Internet of Things (IoT) platform, with 118 million connections, during the tests. The company plans to offer the service as part of its ‘Telco as a Service’ (TAAS) model.
Vodafone plans to integrate the service into its IoT platform and try to scale it to its millions of customers, said Justin Shields, company business platforms and solutions director, in a prepared statement. At our deadline, emails to Vodafone were not returned.
Vodafone will concentrate on markets that require such precise positioning and location technology as autonomous vehicles, particularly within factories, airports, dockyards and other areas with heavy traffic. In addition, the company said that “large enterprises” will benefit from the service not only to locate critical assets, but align machines such as driverless trains at platforms.
Sapcorda, which specializes in GNSS augmentation services and based in Berlin, was created as a joint venture by Bosch, Geo++, Mitsubishi Electric and u-blox.
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.
During testing, Vodafone tracked vehicles in their exact lane during a combined journey of more than 100 kilometers in varying weather conditions, the company said. Sapcorda provided the data feed, which enabled the GNSS signal to be corrected, to deliver the level of positional accuracy, the company said. The Sapcorda precise positioning service (PPS) will work alongside existing Vodafone asset tracking and fleet telematics products that are installed in 54 countries.
Velodyne Signs Deal With ThorDrive, Sees Ford Exit Position
Velodyne Lidar [VLDR] signed a five-year deal with ThorDrive, an autonomous technology company, for Ultra Puck sensors. The lidar sensors will power ThorDrive’s cargo and baggage control support tractors in an autonomous vehicle test at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).
“Testing is progressing very well and ThorDrive is planning to have saleable AV units available in [the fourth quarter] of this year. Velodyne and ThorDrive have been working together for more than 10 years,” said Velodyne CEO Anand Gopalan
The ThorDrive autonomous vehicles (AVs), equipped with Ultra Puck sensors, were developed during tests at the airport’s gates, the company said. ThorDrive’s AVs transport passenger baggage and cargo to and from airplanes.
Velodyne said that ThorDrive is seeing increased interest in the technology. “According to ThorDrive, they are very happy to report that airlines and ground handling operators have expressed a significant amount of interest in the technology,” Gopalan said. “ThorDrive is planning to proliferate its technology to other types of ground support equipment where the efficiencies and enhanced safety realized by autonomous technology make a compelling business case.”
ThorDrive is using Velodyne’s Ultra Puck for its cargo transit vans to obtain 3D surround-view technology for object detection.
In other company news, Ford [F] exited its 7.6 percent stake (13.07 million shares) in Velodyne, according to regulatory filings and published reports.
Ford, which holds a large portion of autonomous vehicle company Argo AI, has Velodyne products in many of its AVs.
Apple Introduces Waze-Like Features
Recent published reports have said that Apple is introducing Waze-like features that allow users to report accidents, road hazards and speed traps.
The crowd-reporting features are on the iOS 14.5 beta, but won’t be available to the public until later this year, the company said. Drivers will be able to report road incidents through Siri or Apple’s CarPlay, according to published reports.
After a rocky start in 2012, the company has continuously improved its maps and associated capabilities—sometimes mirroring their Google Maps competition (with a “Look Around” function that has 3D photography and street-level imagery). Last year, the company said it completed full coverage in the United States and was rolling it out in Europe.
In other Apple Maps news:
The company has been sued by Traxcell Technologies, who claim that Apple Maps infringed on two of its navigation patents. An article in Patently Apple, has a copy of the legal proceedings.
TomTom Releases Annual Report, Market Trends
In our last issue of Location Business News, we reported that TomTom [TOM2], like many location companies, had a rough 2020. The company released a 136-page annual report of not only its finances, but where they see the market going and trends: TomTom 2020 Annual Report.
In other news, TomTom announced the resumption of its share buyback program to repurchase ordinary company shares. The original program, partially executed in 2020, was to repurchase shares for an amount up to €50 million. The program was suspended on 31 March 2020 as a precautionary measure in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. TomTom will use the shares to cover its commitments arising from its long-term employee incentive plans, the company said
Contact: TomTom, email@example.com.
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Location Industry Briefs
Swift Navigation Raises $50 Million in Series C Financing
Swift Navigation has raised a $50 million Series C round of financing led by existing investors Forest Baskett and Greg Papadopoulos of New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Eclipse Ventures. New investors include EPIQ Capital Group and KDDI Open Innovation Fund.
The company said it has raised a total of $97.6 million. The company said it will use this latest funding to scale “worldwide expansion.”
Since its Series B financing round, the company said it has concentrated on its precise positioning service. Customers include automotive OEMs, last-mile delivery providers, mobile providers and those building rail, industrial, micromobility and IoT platforms for mass-market applications.
Swift offers its Starling GNSS software positioning engine that integrates into an automotive sensor suite. The company said the pulls centimeter-accurate location corrections from the Swift Skylark precise positioning service that is available in the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea and Australia.
Contact: Swift Navigation, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Genius Maps Enables In-Vehicle Infotainment
Abalta Technologies said Mireo’s Genius Maps navigation application now works with its WebLink smartphone projection system to enable in-vehicle infotainment systems. WebLink, with more than 3 million units, integrates Genius Maps to offer navigation from a vehicle’s touch screen.
Genius Maps, available in 130 countries and uses HERE mapping, allows drivers to use automotive-grade GPS navigation on existing radios and head units, the company said. Once enabled on a compatible smartphone, the app will allow drivers to have turn-by-turn voice instructions with online or offline maps, including live traffic, speed limit alerts, automatic rerouting and lane assistance.
Contact: Abaltatech, email@example.com.
GPS Monitoring Service Reports Signal Outages
GPS Security Co. said it has partnered with Israel-based Focus Telecom to deploy GPS repeaters to more than 30 railroad stations across the country. As part of the project, infiniDome’s IoT GPSensors and its cloud-based GPS monitoring service, infiniCloud, will be used to monitor any GPS outages or other service disruption, the company said.
The IoT technology, combined with infiniCloud GPS, sends real-time alerts about jamming attacks, the company said. All GPS signal data and its assured integrity are available as real time data so Israel Railways can react immediately and reduce downtime of the network, said Omer Sharar, infiniDome CEO, in a prepared statement.
Contact: Kristi Furrer, infiniDome, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tive and FourKites Rollout Fleet Platform
Tive and FourKites are partnering on a transit platform that provides location, estimated times of arrival (ETA), temperature, light exposure and more, the companies said.
Tive trackers are deployed on worldwide shipments, while FourKites has inroads in the food, beverage, and consumer packaged goods industries, the companies said. Tive's Solo 5G trackers stream temperature, light, shock and other critical real-time load sensing data to the Tive Data Cloud.
Contact: Jim Waters, Tive, email@example.com.
First PNT Integration of Galileo PRS Encrypted Signal
Orolia, through its France-based entity Orolia Systèmes & Solutions (O2S), has been selected for the GEODE (Galileo for EU Defense) project to develop European standardized and sovereign Galileo PRS Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) receiver capabilities for military applications, the company said.
As part of the GEODE consortium and 44 million euro funding, Orolia will focus on the military use of the PRS signal by leading the critical timing and synchronization applications for the program, the company said. The applications include tactical drones, military satellite and space technologies, unmanned ground vehicles, high precision missile systems, next-gen naval platforms, airborne electronic warfare solutions, resilient networks, cyber situational awareness, and the latest active stealth technologies, the company said.
Contact: Sophie ZANGS, Orolia, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trimble Reports Fourth Quarter, Annual Earnings
Trimble [TRMB] said its Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) fourth quarter revenue was $829.7 million—up 1 percent year over year and non-GAAP revenue of $830 million. During fiscal 2020, the company repurchased 1.9 million shares for $81.6 million. Approximately $90.7 million remains under the current share repurchase authorization, the company said.
For 2020, the company reported GAAP revenue of more than $3.147.7 million, with non-GAAP revenue at $3.152.0 million. These numbers were down 4 percent over the year over year numbers, the company said. GAAP net income was $389.9 million and non-GAAP net income was $562.4 million.
Contact: Michael Leyba, Trimble Investor Relations, email@example.com.