USI develops ultra-precise geolocation device

The Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) from Greater Zurich has developed a cost-effective geolocation device accurate to the centimeter. It will above all be used in civil engineering, but also in areas in which such precise technology was previously too expensive.

A view of Makalu in the Himalayas. Image Credit: USI

Together with partners, the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) has developed a new positioning device that is accurate to the centimeter: MAKALU. The device utilizes satellite systems for the purposes of geolocation services. The project was launched in 2017. Now, a market-ready prototype has been produced – it was fully devised and built in the Italian region of Switzerland. According to a press release, MAKALU is an “excellent example of collaboration between academic and business partners”. This research project has been headed up by Dr. Alberto Ferrante at the USI Advanced Learning and Research Institute (AlaRI, Faculty of Informatics). The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) worked on the project as an academic partner, while the prototype was manufactured with the help of Saphyrion Sagl, the project’s business partner. Innosuisse provided financial backing for this project. 

The main feature of this new device is its high level of precision. It is comparable to that of sophisticated, highly expensive geodetic devices. However, the product developed in Ticino will be nowhere near as pricey. Aside from conventional application in the field of civil engineering, for example, this price point will open up completely new possibilities. In this regard, the device could be used in numerous application areas where positioning accuracy was previously discarded for cost reasons. In the press release, Dr. Ferrante explained how: “In particular, the results of MAKALU can be used in IoT (Internet of Things) applications related, for example, to landslide monitoring. The latter represents a serious problem for Ticino and the availability of a low-cost device will help with the implementation of forecasting and warning systems".

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