Galileo, Europe’s ri­val to GPS sat­nav sys­tem, starts ser­vice

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -


Eight years late and bil­lions over bud­get, Euro­pean of­fi­cials flipped the switch Thurs­day on a satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem meant to ri­val the US­made GPS ser­vice that’s be­come a sta­ple fea­ture of smart­phones and cars world­wide.

The Galileo sys­tem, named af­ter the Ital­ian en­gi­neer and as­tronomer, is de­signed to pro­vide com­mer­cial and gov­ern­ment cus­tomers with more pre­cise lo­ca­tion data than GPS.

Be­ing able to pin­point a po­si­tion is crit­i­cal to a grow­ing range of prod­ucts and sys­tems, in­clud­ing real-time logistics, self-driv­ing cars and drone de­liv­ery ser­vices.

Satel­lite sys­tems such as GPS also play an im­por­tant role in pro­vid­ing pre­ci­sion tim­ing for fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions and en­ergy grids.

The launch of the first 18 Galileo satel­lites was hit by de­lays and sev­eral fail­ures. One satel­lite has stopped work­ing and two oth­ers ended up in the wrong or­bit.

But the Euro­pean Space Agency man­aged to launch four satel­lites on a sin­gle rocket last month and ex­pects to have a full com­ple­ment of 24 satel­lites, plus spares, in or­bit within four years.

Galileo orig­i­nally was meant to be­gin ser­vice in 2008 at a cost of 3 bil­lion eu­ros ($3.1 bil­lion), but the de­vel­op­ment and op­er­a­tion is now ex­pected to cost 13 bil­lion eu­ros by 2020, Ger­man news agency dpa re­ported.

While GPS re­ceivers are stan­dard in mil­lions of de­vices al­ready, only a hand­ful of gad­gets sup­port the Galileo sys­tem so far.

Galileo’s free con­sumer sig­nal will pro­vide lo­ca­tion data of­fer­ing pre­ci­sion within about one meter (3 feet, 3 inches), com­pared to 5 me­ters (16 feet) or more for GPS. A pre­mium ser­vice even­tu­ally will of­fer even greater pre­ci­sion to pay­ing cus­tomers and po­lice, fire de­part­ments and gov­ern­ment agen­cies. The sys­tem is also de­signed to boost searc­hand-res­cue op­er­a­tions by cut­ting the amount of time it takes to pin­point dis­tress bea­cons used by peo­ple lost at sea or in the wilder­ness.

Galileo is owned by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the ex­ec­u­tive arm of the Euro­pean Union, based in Brus­sels. — AP

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