Transportation systems depend on the data sent between vehicles and different transport infrastructures (railways, airports, bus stops). With satellite technology, more reliable data can be collected to create smart transport.
This data allows vehicles and infrastructures to adapt to changing conditions such as:
- Weather conditions
- The location of vehicles
- Traffic monitoring
With this space data and new technology from the Internet of Things, transportation will be revolutionised.
How Satellite Data is Used in Transportation Systems
Currently, the data collected from land based networks is responsible for the information sent between vehicles and transport infrastructures. Space data collected from satellites will make this transfer of information instantaneous. Even if other networks break down or are unavailable, satellites can still collect and receive data.
We’re familiar with the use of satellite navigation systems used in transport but satellite technology is vastly improving. This is how it will be implemented in the future.
The Future of Vehicles
Satellites are used to track the location and speed of a vehicle and sense the surrounding temperature. This technology is being advanced to improve road safety and to make travel more convenient.
Space data can detect adverse weather conditions that may affect the roads. For example, if an orbiting satellite picks up data that shows a blizzard is about to start, it will send a signal to a nearby transport hub, which will then send a signal to all cars in the affected radius.
The car’s satellite navigation system can redirect the driver on an alternative route or to a service station. Data on the condition of the car can also be transferred to the driver. They will be notified if they are low on fuel or if their wheels are not suitable for driving in certain conditions.
For larger vehicles used for long haul journeys, a tachometer can be installed to alert the driver about when to they need to take a break. For a more efficient journey, the technology can time rest stops for when the vehicle needs to be refuelled.
To alleviate congestion, satellites can detect traffic and send signals to cars to divert their drivers. In the case of an accident, the cars involved will send a signal to a satellite, which will then alert either the emergency services or road side assistance with their location.
This will improve response time to accidents and shorten journey times.
The Future of Public Transport
Space data will radically improve how we use public transport. In the future, satellites will reduce disruptions and allow for easier commutes.
Satellite data will improve wait times when travelling by bus. A passenger will be able to send a signal to a nearby bus which can then detect their location and collect them.
To reduce disruptions for commuters, trains can send satellite signals when they need servicing. If there is an issue with the train, maintenance companies can be informed before it becomes a bigger problem.
In a similar way, space data is also being utilised for the maintenance of aircrafts to enhance the safety of air travel.
The Future of Ships
When ships need to dock, satellites will send a signal to the port. Data about the ship’s cargo, speed and location will be sent to the port so workers can make the appropriate preparations.
Pollution around a port can be monitored and controlled. If there is too much pollution, ports can send signals to ships telling them to wait until pollution has dispersed before they can dock.
The Use of Drones
Drones will be used to improve the transportation of deliveries. Satellites can detect their location to track their route and ensure they are flying through an unobstructed path.
Smart Transport in Action
More and more companies are using satellite data to improve the way we use transportation systems.
An Inmarsat report surveyed 100 global transport companies that currently use IoT technology. It found that 44 percent of these companies use that data to monitor their environmental impact. Out of them, 65 percent expect to become more sustainable in the future by using this technology.
Assist WRM are using data to control the maintenance of the roads during winter. To avoid disruption, signals can be sent automatically to maintenance equipment to clear the roads of snow. This makes the process faster as it does not require as much manual labour.
Teleretail is a courier service that uses self-driving cars. The cars are sent automatically, and satellites track their speed and route. As a result, packages are delivered on time and the cost of delivery services is reduced.
The European Space Agency supplies funding to innovative businesses who use space data for commercialised services. For more information about the different kind of projects we support, visit our funding page.
Edited by Ken Briodagh