By Carlo des Dorides*:
Since December, users around the world are being guided using the positioning, navigation and timing information provided by Galileo’s global satellite constellation. In 2017, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) officially takes over responsibility for Galileo operations and service provision.
Our main job is to ensure a return on investment from Galileo in the form of clear, across-the-board services and applications for end users. The first step was the awarding of the Galileo service operator (GSOp) contract to Spaceopal, a joint venture between the German Aerospace Agency (DLR) and Italy’s Telespazio. With an emphasis on service performance, this €1.5bn contract will shape the future of Galileo.
As Europe’s link between space technology and user needs, and in line with Europe’s new space strategy, the job of the GSA is to keep end-user needs at the centre of Galileo.
The GSA is a unique EU body created to ensure that this vital link is established across all user groups. To support this, we must continue to invest in the research, technology and applications needed to bring the benefits of space to all EU citizens.
Accomplishing our objective not only means overseeing the operation of key service facilities, but also maximising adoption across market segments and fostering EU economic benefits. Here, thanks to ongoing collaboration with industry, Galileo arrives onto a market ready and able to immediately start using it.
Today 17 companies, representing more than 95 per cent of the global satellite navigation supply market, produce Galileo-ready chips, including key chipset manufacturers like u-blox, Broadcom, Mediatek and Intel; leading European automotive chipset manufacturer STM; Qualcomm, the market leader for smartphone chips; and
Spanish technology company BQ, which launched the first European-designed Galileo smartphone in July.
An up-to-date listing of all available Galileo compatible products can be found at www.useGalileo.eu.
As to economic benefits, the additional accuracy and availability provided by Galileo is expected to enable new applications and services that benefit from increased positioning reliability, further driving economic growth.
In the road sector, auto manufacturers are developing vehicles with connected services for drivers, and in the near future GNSS – including Galileo – will help enable autonomous vehicles that will soon be cruising down our highways.
Here in Europe, as of April 2018, all new vehicle models sold in the EU will be Galileo-capable in order to comply with the EU’s eCall emergency response system regulation. In preparation for this, Galileo-enabled navigation devices will already start coming to market this year.
With the launch of Galileo initial services, the GSA is now putting into practice all that it has been preparing for.
And although it is an exciting time, we are aware that it is also a challenging time. One of the challenges we face is the need to balance the development of Galileo service provision with the need for continued deployment as the programme moves towards full service capability in 2020.
However, I am confident and enthusiastic about the opportunities ahead. By building from our experience and success with the EGNOS service provision, and backed by a committed team of experts, I have no doubt in our success.
As a result, citizens, businesses and entrepreneurs will benefit from the many innovative opportunities created by European GNSS as Galileo gets to work.
*Carlo des Dorides is Executive Director of the European GNSS Agency (GSA)