Navigation: the National Programme

Test environments

To pave the way for future applications of satellite-based navigation, the Space Administration has funded a variety of Galileo test environments (GATEs) in Germany.The opportunities these test beds offer to companies and organisations are unique in Europe: providing realistic environmental conditions, they enable developers to validate and improve their concepts of new future products or services based on Galileo signals.

Each test area is designed to reflect the specific environment for which ground-based receivers need to be developed, i.e. navigation, aviation, and road and rail traffic. Thus, we help companies to enter the market early with optimally developed products.

Receivers and algorithms

Further key activities include the development of advanced mathematical algorithms for new applications, improved satnav receivers, atomic-clock concepts, and multi-sensor applications. In these fields, the Space Administration has initiated and funded research and development projects to be carried out by German companies and research institutions.

Next to its publicly accessible services, Galileo will offer another service that is designed to be especially robust and immune to interference called the Public Regulated Service (PRS). It is intended to provide government institutions and agencies in Europe with high-precision positioning and navigation information, especially in times of crisis when other Galileo services might be unavailable for security reasons, or jammed by external sources. We support the development of special receiver technologies for PRS applications.

Satellite navigation lends itself to a wide range of terrestrial applications. To ensure that the satnav signal is accessible everywhere, including in buildings or in difficult terrains where there are shading effects, such as narrow valleys or clusters of high-rise buildings, Germany's space programme promotes technologies that will improve the quality of positioning and navigation, be it based on Galileo, or, in fact, GPS. Satnav technology is also used in navigating satellites within their low-Earth orbits as well as for automatic docking with the International Space Station (ISS).

In the future, the whole area of autonomous navigation - meaning navigation without any human involvement - will see further progress, which will also open up new options of robotic space exploration. In the terrestrial field, too, the technology of autonomous navigation may potentially spawn a multitude of commercially exploitable products. The National Programme envisages realising a concept called co-operative swarm navigation (autonomous navigation of robots in a swarm), a system of modular redundancy that can be employed cost-efficiently. This means that a multitude of small robots might explore the surface of a planet, communicating among themselves and fulfilling different functions.








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