Automated vehicles are on the way, and the European GNSS Agency (GSA) sees satellite navigation as a core technology that will help to ensure their safe operation. At the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the GSA shared its space with the 'ESCAPE' project, an EU-funded initiative that has developed a unique positioning module for autonomous or semi-autonomous driving.
Autonomous vehicles will feature both sensor-based and connection-based solutions for a variety of vehicle services. Ultimately, the GSA sees a ‘converged solution’ as the best alternative, combining the strengths of both approaches. By integrating sensor data and connectivity-based information, operators can reduce the need for the most expensive sensors and at the same time save money on infrastructure.
The Fundamental Elements-funded ESCAPE project has designed and prototyped the ESCAPE GNSS Engine. It is a unique positioning module that combines precision GNSS and 4G connectivity, for the highly accurate and reliable positioning capabilities required to make automated driving a reality.
One of the things that make ESCAPE unique is the way it brings together high-end GNSS processing capabilities with an industrialisation process that targets high volumes and comparatively limited cost and size. It also encompasses hardware and software safety procedures required for certification for the automotive market.
The unit is ready now, but we have yet to see autonomous cars in large numbers on the road. Is this a problem for the ESCAPE system? Jessica Garcia Soriano, R&D engineer of the Advanced Communications Business Unit at explains, "From the very first moment that you have an autonomous car in the street, you will need high-accuracy positioning, because these vehicles will need this positioning to maintain themselves safely on the road. But we don't have to wait for autonomous cars. The vehicles on the road today can already benefit from this technology"
GNSS-based location will have to be complemented by other technologies in order to get to the integrity level needed in all driving situations, but the GSA also believes the combination of dual-frequency GNSS and 4G/5G connectivity can do more than just navigation, enabling as well a diverse range of in-vehicle location-based services (LBS), much like what we see emerging in smartphones.
To read more see http://www.gsa.europa.eu.
When abundant, water allows economies to grow, but in times of scarcity, it can cause life-threatening crises. It has never been more important to manage water supplies effectively to make good use of every drop – and satellites orbiting the planet can play an important role in this process.
Thanks to satellites, we are better placed than ever before to understand and measure the processes driving the water cycle and the impact that climate change and human activity are having. They also allow us to measure and monitor, for example, the changing shape of lakes, reservoirs and rivers so that mitigation strategies can be put in place.
A huge percentage – around 70% – of the freshwater drawn is used for agriculture alone. Satellites such as ESA’s SMOS mission and the Copernicus Sentinels provide key information on soil moisture and crop health and this information can be used to improve the efficiency of irrigation practices. Data from the Sentinel-2 mission are key to the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service, which provides geographical information on land cover and its changes, land use, vegetation state, water cycle and surface-energy variables for a broad range of users across the world.
Other organisations use satellite data in platforms, such as EOResearch Synergise’s Blue Dot Observatory, so that users have easy access to information to monitor changing water bodies. Satellites such as Copernicus Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2 and ESA's CryoSat can also be used to monitor glacial change, which has a real impact on water supplies downstream. For example, part of the Himalayas, known as ‘the third pole’ – because these high-altitude ice fields contain the largest reserve of freshwater outside the polar regions – provides freshwater for over 1.3 billion people in Asia, nearly 20% of the world’s population.
We live in challenging environmental times, but we also have opportunities like no other time in history, where satellite technology can be used to deliver and share information with the world for the good of society at large.
Read more here.