Brussels, 11 Jul 2005
Thanks to EGNOS, the European geostationary navigation overlay service, the position and speed of each rider in the Tour de France can now be followed in real-time.
The fifth stage of the Tour de France, between Chambord and Montargis, was another first in the field of satellite navigation for the European Space Agency (ESA), following the tests carried out last year during the time trial stage at Alpe d'Huez.
This new approach to the competition is made possible by the use of data from EGNOS's geostationary satellites. The system allows users to see at any given time where each rider is and how he is doing in the race - for example whether he is in the 'peloton' or has broken away and is out in front.
Last year, receivers were positioned in support vehicles following just behind the race. In the current trial, receivers weighing just 200 grams are being carried by a number of cyclists, making it possible to determine their exact position and speed along the 183 kilometre-long stage.
The processing of data was also enhanced after the learning experience of the previous year. These data are made available on the Internet, on the Tour de France channel or can be broadcast by television channels even when they have no presence on the ground.
This information is useful for Tour fans who want to know the position of their favourite rider, but also for team directors in need of constant updates on their star performers and their opponents, or who want to be able to further analyse the race once it is finished in order to refine their strategies.
The information is also of great value to the organisers, notably for security reasons, as it can give them an overall perspective on how stages are unfolding complete with all the exact positions. Eventually, spectators will be able to follow the competitors' positions and the progress of the race live.
The accuracy of EGNOS is such that the position of any moving object equipped with a receiver can be pinpointed to within a metre. Against the backdrop of a 3-D visualisation of the countryside, it will be possible to watch the progress of each rider through all the stages of the Tour.
This information will be an invaluable addition to television broadcasts, which are unable to show all the riders. For example, with this kind of system each broadcaster will be able to have a dedicated channel on which viewers can choose which rider they want to watch without the need for a camera being trained on each cyclist.
Jointly financed by the Galileo Joint Undertaking, ESA and ASO, organisers of the Tour de France, these trials are designed to demonstrate the diverse and practical applications of satellite navigation.
For further information, please consult the following web address: http:///www.esa.int/esaNA/GGG639 50NDC_egn os_0.html