Since 31 March 2018, all new car and light vehicle models sold in the EU must be fitted with an eCall device that can automatically alert emergency services in the event of an accident and transmit the position of the vehicle. In parallel with the launch of this life-saving service, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) launched a testing campaign for eCall devices, inviting all device manufacturers to provide samples for conformity assessment by the European Commission’s science service: the Joint Research Centre (JRC). A summary report of the results has just been published.
The GSA received a large number of positive expressions of interest from the main manufacturers of eCall On-Board Units from Europe, USA, and Asia and devices were delivered to the EU Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) testing facilities at the JRC site at Ispra in Italy, where the testing campaign was carried out.
"We set up a dedicated GNSS laboratory test-bed for the eCall testing. It includes a suite of test scenarios to evaluate the performance of the eCall devices. For instance, we looked at their positioning accuracy in different types of conditions as well as the receiver sensitivity", explains JRC researcher Joaquim Fortuny.
The test scenarios corresponded to those outlined in the eCall Implementation Guidelines Report and were designed to assess the eCall Devices Under Test (DUT) compatibility with EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System) and Galileo.
The assessment campaign started in March 2017 and was concluded in September 2018, and covered 15 DUTs from a range of manufacturers. The performance of the DUT receivers was thoroughly assessed with respect to a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) including their use of SBAS/ EGNOS corrections; their positioning accuracy under static, dynamic and dynamic with shadow areas (i.e. ‘urban canyon’ type) conditions, the Cold Start Time-To-First-Fix (CSTTFF) at two different signal power levels, the re-acquisition time of tracking signals after a block out of 60 seconds, and the receiver sensitivity in cold start mode, tracking mode and re-acquisition scenario.
Two sets of reports were generated by the campaign.
Firstly, an individual test report for each DUT was produced which includes the full-set of detailed results for the specific unit. These reports have been provided only to the relevant DUT manufacturer and are subject to confidentiality agreements between the manufacturer, GSA and JRC.
Secondly, an overall eCall DUT assessment report has just been published, which describes the test campaign and details the main and significant results obtained on the 15 DUTs. Both the aggregate and individual results are provided, but given the sensitive commercial nature of the results, they are presented without disclosing the identity of the individual device manufacturers.
Overall, all DUTs performed well within specification in terms of positioning in all test scenarios.
Only four of the test units were found to be not compliant in terms of the use of SBAS/ EGNOS corrections and it was concluded that SBAS corrections were not used in these cases because of the high latitude of the geographical location used for the tests.
The sensitivity test was perhaps the most demanding test cases for the eCall units, but the majority of them successfully passed.
“This first of its kind testing campaign has strengthened mutual trust and cooperation with the on-board unit manufacturers and the test/simulator solution vendors and has opened a direct communication channel with the manufacturers. This can provide a deeper insight into their products’ maturity and help them to address issues before devices are submitted for type-approval” said GSA Executive Director Carlo des Dorides.
eCall: life saver
Over 25 500 people were killed and 135 000 people seriously injured in road accidents across the EU in 2016. In addition to the tragedy of loss of life and injury, this also represents an annual economic burden of around EUR 130 billion to society.
It is estimated that eCall can speed up emergency response times by 40% in urban areas and 50% in the countryside and could reduce the number of fatalities in road traffic accidents by at least 4% and the number of severe injuries by 6%.
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