Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) services officially started
Japan inaugurated its QZSS satellite positioning system on Nov. 1. QZSS currently has four Michibiki satellites — launched between 2010 and 2017 — and three more will be put in orbit by 2023 to make it more robust. One of those satellites will remain over Japan at all times, and the system will be accurate within 10 cm, an exponential improvement over the GPS system, whose errors in position determination is said to be usually within 10 meters. At the launch ceremony, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe noted that “our lifestyles would be impossible without GPS,” and added that the new system, officially known as the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), would allow Japan to turn “a new page in history.”
Michibiki is anticipated to generate new businesses worth nearly ¥5 trillion by 2025. Applications include road monitoring that can facilitate repairs in distant areas as well as self-driving cars. Its data can furthermore be used for precision agriculture, a boon for Japan as its population decreases and those who remain leave the countryside and migrate to cities. According to one estimate, 80 percent of farming tasks can be automated. Michibiki’s accuracy can also be used for drone services, an industry that is expected to have an explosive growth in the coming years.