Low-cost high-accuracy location tracking software developed at NU
A team led by researchers at Naresuan University has developed a survey and location tracking system that is accessible, affordable and highly accurate. Unlike the GPS in smartphones which can be accurate to ten meters, this new system uses real-time kinematics (RTK) which is accurate to less than a meter. Existing RTK systems were too expensive for general use, whereas the new RTK system is affordable for applications including transportation (e.g. vehicle tracking or autonomous vehicles), civil engineering/construction (e.g. surveying), and agriculture (e.g. drones for precision farming). RTK utilizes all the available satellites systems in operation, particularly GPS from USA, GLONASS from Russia, BEIDOU from China and Galileo from the EU.
The project has been led by Asst. Prof. Dr. Duangduen Asavasuthirakul, a researcher specializing in geo-information systems from Department of Computer Science and Information Technology at Naresuan University. She established a team of university researchers cooperating with private organizations together they obtained funding from NSTDA.
Mr. Prasert Wiangsookpaiboon from Nakra Microtek Co. Ltd. is a key partner who has developed the hardware named “Pantai” for the project. Pantai is a board that consists of a satellite receiver (Ublox) together with wireless networking and telecommunications chips. The Pantai board is capable of obtaining a position with an accuracy of a few centimeters.
On the software side, Dr. Antony Harfield, a researcher at Naresuan University, has been working with master’s student Sittha Saisawan and Phitsanulok-based Apptitude Co. Ltd. developers Thanakorn Amnuaywiboolpol and Sorawit Trutsat to develop the “RTK Control Center”. The software runs in the cloud and enables anytime, anywhere remote configuration of the Pantai boards. Positioning data from Pantai is available in real-time from the RTK Control Center and can be shared with other systems. The software runs on Google’s scalable Cloud Computing architecture.
As a demonstration, Asst. Prof. Dr. Duangduen has made a Pantai base station available for use at the Faculty of Science, which provides correction data for survey or tracking purposes for Pantai rovers within a 10km radius of NU. Additionally, 8 electric buses on NU campus have been fitted with Pantai boards for location tracking. By sharing this data, websites and mobile applications can obtain the location of each bus in real-time and software can predict the arrival time of the next bus. When sufficient data is collected, algorithms can predict which buses are mostly likely to breakdown and which buses require battery replacement – information that should improve the service for everyday users.