Space is the usual business of a space agency, so it may come as a surprise that the European Space Agency (ESA) is giving some attention to road transport.
The agency is designing and building the satellites that will make up the space segment of Galileo, Europe`s own global satellite navigation system. When Galileo becomes fully operational in 2008, road vehicles fitted with special receivers will be able to use signals broadcast by the satellites to determine their positions with unprecedented accuracy. Such information will open up new ways of managing traffic, leading to better road safety, fewer traffic jams and more efficient journeys. Already, ESA is assessing some of the possibilities.
Many cars already have GPS (Global Positioning System) that can tell you how to get to your destination. But what we will be able to have with Galileo is spot-on road traffic management. This is because the future satellite navigation services will be more reliable and much more accurate than the present GPS system.
Metre accuracy can already be achieved with satellite based augmentation systems, such as EGNOS (the European Global Navigation Overlay System), which improves the accuracy and reliability of GPS signals. “Galileo`s novel signal structure in combination with regional augmentations will notch the accuracy up again by an order of magnitude into the centimetre range. We have already tested the technology and are pretty sure that Galileo will achieve this. Galileo will also bring an enormous leap in the availability and reliability of positioning signals. We will be able to do things that have been impossible so far. What seems like science fiction today will be science fact in a few years` time," says Hans Fromm from ESA`s navigation department.
Hans Hermann-Fromm | alfa
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