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Enhanced positioning system may pave the way for autonomous vehicle operations

The safe operation of autonomous vehicles may be enabled through enhancements to space based positioning systems being investigated in Europe, with benefits flowing to Australia.

Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), has been selected by the European Commission for a new strategic contract to assess the extension of the Safety of Life system for aviation into the road, rail and maritime sectors.

Thales Alenia Space will focus on the development of a new approach to combine several sensors (sensors fusion) including and complementing evolutions of EGNOS the European SBAS (Space Based Augmentation System) in order to provide the necessary Safety of Life integrity level to serve the high reliability and high accuracy positioning needs of new demanding applications such as road autonomous vehicles but also autonomous transport in maritime and rail sectors.

With this contract, Thales Alenia Space will assess the extension of the integrity and safety of life services for aviation into the road, rail and maritime sectors, having already won last year the EPICURE project, based on an integrity concept for road travel (tolls and insurance), as well as the IMPRESS project targeting an integrity service for rail signaling and train separation.

The extension of Safety of Life integrity services beyond the traditional aviation certified capability, could deliver significant benefit to Australia and New Zealand including broader local industry benefits with emerging safety critical applications such as, mining and resources as well as ground transportation, maritime, rail and autonomous vehicles.

Prime contractor for EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) for 25 years, a lead industrial contributor to Galileo system and ground mission segment and now responsible for providing 6 Galileo Second Generation satellites, Thales Alenia Space has always been at the forefront of navigation solutions in Europe.

Today, GNSS, as an absolute positioning system, is a key driver for wide scope positioning applications. Tomorrow, the addition and integration of an integrity service complementing EGNSS High Accuracy will foster the emergence of large-scale precision safety critical applications, such as autonomous vehicles.


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