Europe is becoming a key player in the satellite positioning (GNSS) arena. In this series of articles, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) highlights the many success stories happening across all sectors in market uptake, user adoption, innovation and R&D. Here we focus on the road transportation segment and the eCall project.
In view of the proposed European regulation for the eCall emergency assistance systems that aim to use GNSS satellite positioning, including EGNOS and Galileo; the opportunity for eCall device manufacturers to test Galileo compatibility was announced in December 2013. The campaign is being undertaken in cooperation with the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and consists of a series of tests utilizing the available state-of-the-art Galileo facilities in Northern Italy. The purpose is, to favour and accelerate the possibility to test the Galileo Open Service Signals compatibility of the in-vehicle eCall devices, based on suggestions from eCall manufacturers. It can be extended to also cover EGNOS compatibility.
eCall is an initiative aimed at bringing rapid assistance to motorists involved in a collision happening anywhere within the European Union. In case of a crash, an eCall equipped car automatically calls the nearest emergency centre. Even when the passengers are incapacitated due to injuries, eCall sends a minimum set of data that includes the exact location of the accident site.
As a result, emergency services are provided with immediate information on the damage sustained and the location of the vehicle, reducing response times by half in rural areas and 60% in urban areas. This reduction in time is expected to save hundreds of lives every year. More so, in many cases the severity of injuries will be considerably reduced.
eCall also allows one to place a call by simply pushing a button inside their car. This can be advantageous, for example, when one witnesses an accident and needs to call emergency services.
When not in use, eCall ‘sleeps’, meaning that vehicles are not tracked outside of emergency situations.
The objective is to create a system that seamlessly functions throughout Europe in coordination with Member States, car manufacturers, telecom operators and emergency control centres.
The test campaign for eCall manufacturers follows the success of a similar test campaign for GNSS chipset manufacturers and professional receivers, conducted in cooperation with the JRC and the European Space Agency, which was initiated in August 2013 and is currently on-going.
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