Belgium: Delegates at Road User Charging (RUC) 2012 Conference in Brussels discussed new trends in road charging in Europe, including GNSS. With European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) now operational and Galileo set to come online soon, the high flexibility and low investment costs of satellite-based solutions is getting harder to ignore, according to a press statement by the European GNSS Agency (GSA).
“Making major changes in road charging is not an easy task,” said Fotis Karamitsos, Director of Logistics, Maritime and Land Transport and Passenger Rights at the European Commission’s DG MOVE. “What we need to do is get out of the box and start thinking about the growth and new jobs that can be created by new technologies and new ideas.
“This is a great business opportunity, with real benefits for European citizens, and we can export these technologies and ideas to the rest of the world.”
One of the new technologies that is changing the way we drive, Karamitsos emphasised, is EGNOS, which makes it possible to design fairer and more flexible, low-investment road charging solutions based on satellite navigation signals, telling operators who is on a given road, for how long and over what distance with a very high degree of accuracy and reliability.
Fiammetta Diani of the European GNSS Agency stressed the urgency of getting onboard the GNSS train. “Road authorities across Europe have to decide which way to go with their new user charging systems. The reality is that today’s GNSS is already a good tool for road charging; GPS and Glonass signals are present worldwide and EGNOS, free and fully operational, improves GPS performance across Europe.
“But a new generation of GNSS is approaching quickly,” Diani added. “In October 2011 the EU launched the first two operational Galileo satellites and two more will follow in 2012. We have started our deployment phase. This means more satellites, more capacity, more accuracy and more services requiring localisation and timing. We will see not only better road pricing in demanding environments, such as deep urban canyons, but also lane-specific applications, speed adaptation systems, real time navigation for electromobility, and more. All of this is going to happen very soon.”
Giacolone agreed, “The future is satellites and web-based applications. Everyone is rushing to develop new services based on these technologies and we don’t want to miss out.”
Andrew Sage, Director of the independent management and technology consultancy Helios also urged equipment suppliers to react quickly: “The satellites are there, but to make all of this happen, we need manufacturers to catch up and to provide the equipment, the receivers, the devices needed. And public authorities need to decide on road charging schemes that are ‘future-proof’, able to use EGNOS now and ready for Galileo.”