Galileo Satellite Navigation
The European satellite navigation system, Galileo, was launched in December 2016 and can be used for the first time. So far, 18 of the 30 satellites planned are in space, and the rest are to follow by 2020. According to the EU Commission, Galileo should now transmit more precise signals than its US competitor GPS (Global Positioning System), and should make Europe independent in terms of satellite navigation.
In the age of gloablisation and the advancing interconnectedness of the entire world, the satellite system is also becoming increasingly important and offers many new future fields.
Transport and Traffic
The transport sector, with its aviation, maritime, rail, and road segments will benefit in particular from future Galileo applications. The safety of ever-increasing air traffic can be improved, as can navigation on waterways and on land. There will be further changes in road traffic in particular. While the focus so far has been on navigation and toll applications, future Galileo applications will warn drivers of traffic jams, danger spots or poor road conditions at an early stage. In addition, logistics companies will use Galileo to optimize the transportation of goods. Sales figures for vehicles with navigation show just how fast markets are developing: while in 2004 only five million vehicles in Europe were equipped with a navigation system, this figure rose to twelve million vehicles in 2005. Galileo applications in the leisure sector will develop into an enormous market. Already widespread devices make new functions possible in combination with satellite navigation. The market for GPS-based PNAs (Personal Navigation Assistants) has been showing enormous growth rates since 2006. For example, joggers and other endurance athletes can precisely document speed, altitude difference, and distance. It is also conceivable that precisely defined meeting points for appointments will become superfluous: Since one's exact position is displayed, even hikers unfamiliar with an area can be found in open terrain and a pedestrian in a busy city centre can get into a car directly where the driver can find a place to stop.
Environmental Protection and Disaster Control
Galileo will make a special contribution to environmental monitoring. Due to the increasing precision of the location signals, for example, pollution and its origin can be better observed and climatic changes can be measured more accurately. Satellite-based analyses have already proven their worth in monitoring glaciers and volcanoes. In addition, seismic activities and flood protection can be monitored. In the maritime sector, Galileo can be used to monitor fish stocks and thus monitor compliance with protection zones.
The energy industry will primarily benefit from the efficient planning and utilisation of pipeline networks. In particular, the exact time transmission of the Galileo signal will be used. In this way, the networks can be optimally utilized and monitored in order to react quickly in the event of a partial segment failure. Since overloads can lead to fatal power failures, exact synchronization is of the utmost importance, especially when operating power grids. Galileo will make important contributions to the exploration of new production fields for fossil fuels.
Construction and Planning
Galileo signals will also lead to important improvements in the construction industry. The precise signals can be used to monitor structural changes in buildings such as skyscrapers, bridges and dams. Galileo will also broaden the range of existing measuring instruments for soil investigation and slope stability assessments. Satellite navigation is increasingly being used on large construction sites to optimally coordinate the logistical processes and movements of individual construction vehicles. Galileo will also replace the systems currently in use in the planning of construction measures, such as data acquisition in the field.
Agriculture and Forestry
Large savings in agriculture can primarily be achieved through the precise use of pesticides. The process known as "precision farming" generally refers to the precise control of agricultural vehicles. Satellite navigation is also increasingly used for sowing. The seed is specifically sown, and the growth and later yield are controlled on the basis of stored values. GPS applications are widespread in the forestry sector. They optimise the impact and transport of timber.
In addition to efficient traffic monitoring, safety-relevant applications concern life-saving on land, water and in the air; for example, the transport of dangerous goods. A quick response to emergency calls is vital. To support this, Galileo can not only transmit an exact position, but can also send back small amounts of data from the rescue control center to the device from which the emergency call was sent. Data transmission in both directions is a fundamental innovation that differs from GPS.
New applications of Galileo are particularly seen in the field of patient monitoring and remote treatment. Devices that use Galileo to determine their own position and forward this information, together with the patient's health information, to a central control centre enable efficient and cost-saving patient care.