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Satellite navigation technology for the environment

28 September 2012

New company hopes to integrate satellite navigation technology with wireless communication networks for the development of environmental applications, like the investigation of forest fires.

Image courtesy of  ESA
Image courtesy of ESA

The aim of this new company, GEKO NavSat, is to exploit the full potential of satellite navigation, combining it with other technologies to develop innovative products and create new applications. Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) include GPS, but there are other systems, such as EGNOS (a GPS satellite-based augmentation system), GLONASS, the Russian system, and the future Galileo system, which play a fundamental  role in the Global Satellite Navigation strategy.

This set of technologies can be applied to the areas of intelligent transport, maritime navigation, search and rescue, or other scenarios related with the environmental sector, where geo-location information about the environment is important.  One of the specific applications is in the field of forest fire investigation.

At present, forest fire research teams use heavy equipment cases and manual techniques to indicate the direction of the fire and determine the starting point on the basis of the trails that the fire leaves on the ground. The integration of satellite navigation technologies and wireless communication networks would allow the development of low-cost, personal devices which can automate the process of research and extract data in real time.

Other applications are geared to people with special needs, like a guiding project for the blind on the basis of the integration of GNSS with augmented acoustic reality. The intention is to create a device that allows blind people to follow a specific route on the basis of three-dimensional sounds. The application of this device would be immediate in the case of blind people, but would also be used by people who must travel in conditions of low or zero visibility.

The business incubator at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) science park supported the creation of GEKO NavSat and houses the company in its facilities. For more information about UC3M, click here.

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