The European space agency (ESA) has recently announced it has “green lit” the delivery of additional Galileo Satellites. This means that before the end of the year it is expected that six Satellites will be delivered into space, instead of the originally planned number of four.
Even though there are already 3 pre-existing Satellite navigations systems in place in the shape of: the US NAVSTAR GPS - The Russian GLONAS-System and the Chinese Beidou System, the ESA has begun construction of the constellation of satellites for the European system.
It is expected that the European Galileo system will remain under civil control, however at the same time it is compatible with all the existing GPS systems. The European space agency maintains that the system will find use within the traffic, telecommunication and agricultural sectors. As of August 2016 around half of the satellites required for the Galileo system are already in space, and the expected completion time for the last few satellites is expected to run up to 2018.
One of the greatest advantages of the system is that it is not only faster, but also more reliable compared to current existing Satellite navigations systems. What this means for logistics and ferry companies is less stress and more precision as the system is accurate to 4 metres. This is particularly relevant given the rise of articles recently explaining that drivers have been paying too much attention to their satellite navigations systems and have then either caused an accident or have become stuck on a road or street which was ill suited for large HGV's.
There have been two recent examples where a truck driver attempted to drive under a bridge only to discover that his vehicle was too high. This then caused severe traffic congestion as well as resulting in the bridge being destroyed. In another example, a driver followed his satnav until he drove into a narrow dirt road and was then subsequently unable to back out again.
Many logistics companies and hauliers hope that with the introduction of Galileo, route maps will not only become more accurate but also the information provided will be far more reliable and up to date for speedier deliveries. For many logistics companies, “time is money”.
This system can be utilised by more than just standard traffic. The emergency and rescue servies as well as the police can benefit from this system, as the accuracy of the system is one of its greatest strengths.
One of the biggest critics of this project is the USA. As a civilian run GPS system, the US government fears that should the system fall into the hands of less scrupulous individuals it has the potential to be misused. In the current climate, these fears are not entirely unfounded.
Although the project is intended for civil applications, a resolution adopted by the European parliament on space and security, have included allowances for “operations” conducted under the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).
Another commonly cited criticism of the system is the ever increasing costs. As of 2007, 1.5 Billion Euros have been allocated for development of the system. At the end of 2013 an additional sum of 3.4 Billion Euros was estimated to be allocated from the EU budget. The mid-term review conducted by the EU in January 2011 highlighted that the probable development costs thus far are closer to 5.3 Billion Euros up till the end of 2020.