This year, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has the pleasure of congratulating two winners on their success in the Copernicus Masters competition. The annual innovation competition honours applications and ideas that use satellite data from the Copernicus Earth observation programme to address societal and environmental challenges. More than 20 individual prizes as well as the overall Copernicus Masters 2022 prize were awarded on 1 December 2022 at the New Space Economy Expo in Rome. There, the Luxembourg start-up WEO won the DLR Challenge on ‘Environment, Energy and Health’ with its ‘Urban Green Tracker’. Hartmut Runge's DLR team was awarded the special prize from the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) for their ‘DriveClean’.
"Whether addressing globalisation or climate change, the challenges facing society require innovative solutions. Earth observation data in particular show us the consequences of climate change, but also support the sustainable use of natural resources," emphasised Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Chair of the DLR Executive Board, "With the Copernicus Masters, we want to draw attention to how remote sensing data can significantly improve the sustainable use of our limited natural resources. This offers opportunities for start-ups in particular to develop new business ideas. Our environment, health and energy usage are particular focusses of the DLR Challenge."
Urban Green Tracker – for a green home
Greened streets, lush meadows on top of buildings and a nearby park. The green infrastructure of urban areas is becoming an increasingly important criterion for decisions in the housing market. It also strengthens urban climate resilience, which is particularly important in the face of ongoing global change. WEO's Urban Green Tracker service is designed to enable its users to obtain detailed information on the state of soil sealing and greening as well as on climatic risk factors of an urban area.
Using Copernicus Sentinelsatellite data and machine learning methods, factors such as tree cover, green rooftops, surface temperature and soil permeability can be determined accurately and cost-effectively. Additional indicators for urban heat islands and flooding risks will be provided and combined with this geo-information. So on the one hand, the Urban Green Tracker can contribute to providing better climate-relevant information about real estate locations. On the other hand, it can also help cities to identify risk areas and implement more efficient urban planning.
DriveClean – data-driven environmental protection for the transport sector
Particulate matter continues to pollute our environment and endanger the health of millions of people every day. This is precisely the problem that the four-member winning team from DLR is tackling with DriveClean. Their innovative solution is designed to significantly reduce the pollution of motorised vehicles by adjusting the engine control depending on the situation. As a software-based application, DriveClean requires minimal additional costs and can be applied to both new and existing vehicle models with reasonable effort.
The DriveClean process is the first to bring together the latest and route-specific environmental data, such as those acquired using the Sentinel-5P satellite, with the intelligent control system of the vehicle. Air quality maps specially processed for the task reveal which stretches of road are currently highly polluted. Based on this information, the vehicle can be switched to a reduced emission mode, if necessary, to significantly reduce or even completely avoid pollutant emissions in the area. Not only can the engine power be adjusted, but it is also possible to switch between fossil fuels and more environmentally friendly fuels. DriveClean is thus intended to contribute to a resource-saving and the targeted and effective use of alternative fuels at emission hotspots.