HomeAutonomous VehiclesEuro transport and space agencies team up on satellite comms for smart vehicles

Euro transport and space agencies team up on satellite comms for smart vehicles

ERTICO, the European public-private collective of road transport agencies and organisations, has signed a provisional deal with the European Space Agency (ESA) to collaborate on space technology and services to improve the safety and reliability of assisted and automated vehicles on European roads. The pair said the deal, a ‘memorandum of intent’, will pave the way to develop and commercialise “digital and green” tech to support an intelligent transportation system (ITS) on the continent.

In a statement, the pair said they will “exchange knowledge and expertise to advance the future of automated and sustainable mobility, improve the reliability of data and build the sector, its services and products stronger and more reliable with space technology. Innovative new services resulting from space-based technology will have a direct benefit to European citizens’ lives”.

ERTICO, an acronym for European Road Transport Telematics Implementation Coordination, combines 120-odd service providers, industry agencies, public authorities, research organisations, and vehicle manufacturers. With funding from the European Union, it runs various projects, platforms, and support activities focused on smart mobility and sustainable transport, with a focus on cooperative, connected and automated mobility (CCAM), and ITS infrastructure for smart cities and roadways.

ESA’s own navigation innovation and support programme (NAVISP) squares with the focus on “clean and sustainable mobility”, the statement said, and looks at ways to provide reliable ‘positioning, navigation and timing’ (PNT) information for automated vehicles and future of navigation and traffic management systems. The statement talked up opportunities to develop “connectivity and geo-positioning through satellite communication”.

Javier Benedicto, director of navigation at ESA, said: “Today’s memorandum represents a big step towards a more efficient, safer and sustainable transport sector in Europe by using space-based applications and services… ERTICO’s comprehensive roadmap defines a future where vehicles communicate with each other, the roads they drive on and other infrastructure – but also highlights the fundamental need for ubiquitous, precise, and reliable positioning, navigation, and timing information – PNT. This is the very focus of ESA’s Navigation Innovation and Support Programme, NAVISP, so the potential for synergy is evident and enormous.”

Nikolaos Tsampieris, senior manager at ERTICO, said: “Our CCAM roadmap is a major focus area for us. It will enable the reduction of human error – by far the largest cause of road accidents – through features such as collision avoidance, lane departure warnings and auto-parking, as well as the regulation of traffic flow to maximise the efficient use of fuel and prevent the otherwise inevitable congestion of European roads while alleviating some of its negative environmental impacts.”

Rafael Lucas, head of NAVISP at ESA, said: “There is still much more to do in supporting the transition to safer and more sustainable traffic systems in the future, and today’s new cooperation effort helps make that possible. Because ERTICO bridges so many different actors – service providers, traffic and transport companies, research institutions and universities, public authorities, the connectivity industry, as well as vehicle manufacturers and suppliers – this cooperation opens up a huge number of unique starting points for future research, bringing our work closer to the market and increasing opportunities for commercialisation of space-based applications.”

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