Europe activates its GPS rival, Galileo


As anyone who got caught up in the Pokemon Go craze this summer can tell you, the Global Positioning Satellite system is still not as accurate as we would like. That’s about to change in Europe thanks to the launch of the new Galileo Global Satellite Navigation System, which went live today.

According to the European Commission, Galileo will offer quick and precise navigation information that can be used to power a wide range of location-based services, from disaster response to self-driving cars.

“Geo-localisation is at the heart of the ongoing digital revolution with new services that transform our daily lives,” Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič (above left) said in a statement. “Galileo will increase geo-location precision ten-fold and enable the next generation of location-based technologies, such as autonomous cars, connected devices, or smart city services. Today I call on European entrepreneurs and say: imagine what you can do with Galileo – don’t wait, innovate!”

The European Commission noted that Galileo will improve road and rail safety and aid in emergency response situations. In addition, the network’s faster, more accurate location information will offer better synchronization for telecommunications and financial transactions across long distances, and it will give public services such as police an encrypted navigation platform.

Although Galileo is now officially active, the system will not be fully operational for several years, which is why Galileo works in conjunction with existing GPS technology until it can fully take over. Galileo Initial Services will not be available all of the time at first, but that will change over the next few years, as the EU plans to launch an additional 12 Galileo satellites by 2020, increasing the system’s total network to 30 satellites. The EU has also passed a law that will require all vehicles manufactured after 2018 to include Galileo support.

“Galileo offering initial services is a major achievement for Europe and a first delivery of our recent Space Strategy,” said Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska (above right). “This is the result of a concerted effort to design and build the most accurate satellite navigation system in the world. It demonstrates the technological excellence of Europe, its know-how and its commitment to delivering space-based services and applications. No single European country could have done it alone.”

Image courtesy of the European Commission