The service will begin with trials in Japan next month before expanding nationwide in November. The satellites can provide centimeter-level positioning to the autonomous technology that is beginning to be deployed across a range of industries, SoftBank said.
The first Michibiki satellite was launched in September 2010, followed by three more in subsequent years.
Since launching all four of them, Japan’s constellation Michibiki satellites has been offering high-precision location data since last November. SoftBank’s service will be the first attempt at building a viable commercial business with it.
Japan’s Improved Version of GPS
The Michibiki satellites are billed as Japan’s version of the Global Positioning System (GPS). The satellites transmit radio waves toward the ground to supply accurate positioning data.
The satellites fly in what is known as a „quasi-zenith orbit“ above Japan and their radio waves can be received even in mountainous areas or between tall buildings in cities. Autonomous cars using current GPS face additional challenges in cities by losing their signal around tall buildings, something that the Michibiki satellite technology minimizes.
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