Brussels, 24 Nov 2003
The European Space Agency (ESA) and a number of Portuguese organisations are developing a new road management technology, based on the EGNOS satellite navigation system.
As Europe's first foray into satellite navigation, EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) works by enhancing the data provided by the US GPS system, offering greater precision and signal continuity. When its signal is available from mid-2004, EGNOS will provide the basis for the road safety project currently being developed by ESA and its partners in Portugal.
Known as ARMAS (Active Road Management Assisted by Satellite), the project's applications are currently being tested on Portugal's Vasco Da Gama Bridge. One of the most beneficial facilities being developed is an early warning system for drivers who may be about to enter a hazardous area. Drivers can receive notification of incidents they are likely to encounter on their journey, with the problem highlighted on an in-car display screen and through sound messages.
The ARMAS system also allows an individual vehicle to send back information to a centralised control centre. An S.O.S. alarm can be sent in an emergency, for example. Personnel in the control centre are then able to send assistance immediately as the system tells them the exact location of the vehicle. It is also possible for an individual driver involved in an accident to alert nearby motorists to slow down.
The EGNOS satellite navigation system, on which these applications are based, is an initiative of the European Commission, ESA and Eurocontrol - the European air navigation safety organisation. The Commission views EGNOS as a precursor and a support to Galileo, Europe's secured satellite navigation system, due to be operational in 2008. Citing developments such as the ARMAS system, the Commission believes that EGNOS will greatly increase the number of satellite positioning applications available on the market and create more demand for such services.
For further information, pleas consult the following web address: http:///www.esa.int/export/esaCP/SEMYKYWL DMD_index_0.html