Japanese quintet to tout homegrown GPS through venture
More precise system could find use in drones, self-driving cars
TOKYO -- Five Japanese enterprises will form a new company to market in Asia and Oceania new technologies using a Japanese global positioning system accurate to within centimeters.
The joint venture will be set up as early as Thursday, capitalized at 92 million yen ($836,000). Hitachi Zosen will hold a 35.87% stake, while the state-backed Development Bank of Japan will have a 31.52% interest. Denso, Hitachi Automotive Systems and Japan Radio will each own 10.87%.
The government has launched two Michibiki satellites for the system and aims to have a total of four in orbit over Japan and Australia by next spring. By working in conjunction with existing GPS, the Japanese system can provide location information accurate to within as little as 6cm, even between buildings or mountains, compared with the 10 meters sometimes seen now.
Equipping vehicles with receivers for this system would allow for lane-by-lane tracking of traffic flow. This would make it easier to manage traffic, potentially helping to ease the chronic gridlock plaguing Thailand and Vietnam.
The technology will also be used for unmanned agricultural equipment to operate in Australia's vast expanses of farmland. Hitachi Zosen has successfully tested a robot, with a 30cm tire width, that can travel safely within 40cm spaces between furrows. The company hopes to market technology for automating seed-sowing and fertilizer application through the new venture.
The Japanese government's plan for the space industry targets a 2.4 trillion yen market in the 2030s -- double current levels. It calls for public-private partnerships to promote businesses using satellite data.