Protecting India’s forests and wildlife with satellite location

16 September 2016

The u-blox M8 GNSS navigation and positioning chip is at the heart of a new initiative that protects forests, wildlife and endangered species.

The Forest Minister of Odisha has unveiled a locally-developed handheld GNSS device, the Sxtreo T51 PDA, based on the u-blox M8 GNSS chip, which will be used by thousands of rangers to protect and manage forest resources. The Indian state of Odisha is larger than most European countries, but 30 percent of its area is forest, including national parks that are home to protected wildlife, tiger reserves and over 100 species of wild orchid.

The T51 was developed by India’s Stesalit Systems Ltd., which worked with Swiss-based u-blox to create a unique handheld PDA for the Indian sub-continent, where GNSS can be enhanced by signals from India’s own GAGAN (GNSS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation) system to improve standalone accuracy down to the 2-meter range – potentially making a u-blox M8-equipped device precise enough to geotag locations of individual trees and animals.

The 72-channel u-blox M8 chip acquires up to three global navigation satellite systems (GNSS): Galileo, BeiDou, and GLONASS, concurrently. This makes it ideal for challenging environments where the sky may be partly obscured by thick forest cover, mountainous terrain, or buildings. In addition, the u-blox M8 GNSS chip is flexible and future-proof, because of accuracy upgrades and support for new positioning systems or augmentation systems, such as GAGAN, can be added via firmware updates – even out in the field.

India’s forest rangers and guards will use the rugged T51, which is designed for harsh outdoor conditions, for foot patrol navigation, geospatial validation of forestry accounts, incident reporting, monitoring of poaching and tree-felling, and surveying and demarcation of forest land. The Linux and Android-based T51 provides functions similar to a mobile phone, including communications and a camera, all fully-integrated with the u-blox M8’s advanced navigation and location support.

The Odisha Forestry Department is already readying its plans to equip 3,000 forestry staff with GNSS PDAs so that field offices and the public can keep updated on their work. The department has targeted delivery of the first 600 u-blox M8-equipped PDAs to forest divisions by early September.

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