Airbus Defence & Space Wins ESNC Competition

November 3, 2014  - By
The Airbus team (from left): Thorsten Rudolph, Jan Wendel, Wolfgang Kogler, Rolf Densing. Photo: ESNC

Thorsten Rudolph, Application Center GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen (left), and Rolf Densing, DLR (right), award the Airbus team of Jan Wendel and Wolfgang Kogler the EUR 20,000 grand prize. Photo: ESNC

The winner of the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) 2014 is Airbus Defence & Space, which won over the jury of experts from around the world with its ground-breaking and cost-effective receiver for the Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS).

The award winners were announced October 23 at an awards ceremony held at the Berlin headquarters of Deutsche Telekom. The awards recognize innovations in the commercial use of satellite navigation technology.

“Award winners Wolfgang Kogler and Jan Wendel from Airbus Defence & Space have taken a cutting-edge approach to designing a low-cost receiver that enables police departments, fire brigades, emergency medical services, and other public entities to make use of the Galileo PRS system,” The ESNC said. “Its core innovation involves the development of a special network architecture that combines the receiver with an assistance server. The concept accounts for all the required security aspects and significantly reduces costs and the complexity of user receivers, thus facilitating broader use of PRS in the realm of public security.”


In addition to the EUR 20,000 grand prize, the design took home Bavaria’s regional prize and the ESNC’s special PRS prize, which was awarded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) and Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).

“This special prize reflects our effort to further examine possibilities for the use of PRS applications,” said Tobias Miethaner, Head of the BMVI’s Digital Society, in his opening address at the awards ceremony. “I am delighted to see that the ESNC is already providing an important impetus to the promotion and development of innovative applications of the future Galileo PRS in its first year.”

Over the past decade, the ESNC has brought forth numerous new applications in the field of satellite navigation. The 2014 edition was shaped in particular by the imminent launch of the first Galileo services, with more than 40% of the 434 submissions received from more than 40 countries seeking to employ Galileo/EGNOS in their own products and services.

“Thanks to our international network, we’re in an excellent position to take advantage of Galileo’s operational launch,” said Thorsten Rudolph, managing director of Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen, which initiated and continues to organize the ESNC. “We believe that the ESNC’s function as a leading innovation framework in its field will grant it an equally important role in Europe’s new satellite navigation system.”

Along with the overall winner, 240 experts in the ESNC’s renowned network selected more than 30 other winners in the competition’s regional and special-prize challenges. Under the patronage of Germany’s Federal Minister of Transport, prizes worth a total of EUR 1 million were presented at the awards ceremony. The winners illustrated the fundamental importance of robust, reliable, and secure time and positioning signals for Europe’s digital society through innovations in areas such as transport, health, and the environment.

2014 Special Prize Winners

In addition to selecting its overall winner, the 11th European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) has awarded prizes in six different special categories and to 25 regional winners.

GSA: The most promising application idea for European GNSS

Giovanni Arturo Vecchione and team, Deimos Space, Spain: Galileo for ARA / A New Galileo Module for the ARA Platform

The Galileo for ARA module will use a key feature of Galileo – its E5 broadband signal – to create new possibilities in the development of smartphone applications that require high accuracy. The team thus plans to integrate E5 Galileo receiver modules for enhanced accuracy and develop an antenna interface module to provide better performance. This will offer improved positioning precision with centimetre-level accuracy and a multipath-resistant solution designed for pedestrians and urban environments. 

ESA Innovation Prize & Flanders/Belgium — Overall Ranking: 3rd Place

Kristoff Van Rattinghe and team, sensolus, Belgium: The Next-Generation Location Tracker – Just stickNtrack

stickNtrack is a disruptive innovation that opens up an abundance of new business opportunities in tracking trailers, containers, machinery, tools, bikes, and more. It functions for up to 10 years without the hassle of charging batteries, managing SIM cards, or any intrusive installations while consuming up to 40 times less power. StickNtrack also lowers life-cycle costs by 50% compared to current compact GPRS/GPS products.

DLR: GNSS Reloaded – Applications in Context

Michal Rutkowski, Poland: SBAS Retranslation / Pseudolite System for Precision Approach and Air Navigation

This artificial ground-based solution will significantly boost the coverage of satellite-based augmentation systems (SBAS, such as EGNOS) to ensure safe landings on all airport runways. SBAS assistance can be limited due to a lack of signal coverage in the far north, in the mountains, or in highly urbanised areas. By receiving and retransmitting GPS corrections, the proposed system will enable the use of systems like EGNOS in such difficult environments. Thanks to its competitive cost and reliability, this system will be a strong alternative to conventional instrument landing systems (ILS).

University Challenge

Peter Zentgraf and team, University of Applied Sciences Rosenheim, Germany :: Hail Navigator and Precipitation Reporting System for Hail Suppression Aircraft

Hail Navigator is a novel system designed to reduce damage caused by hail. The formation of hail can be suppressed by injecting silver iodide into clouds. Hail Navigator combines navigation with a precipitation reporting system that can guide pilots to the optimal locations for their hail suppression missions. The system is complemented by weather observations (including precise times and locations) reported by the local population via a smartphone app as a means of validating weather prediction models. These models constitute an important factor in deciding whether a hail suppression flight is necessary.

GNSS Living LabPrize

Adrian Blackwood and team, trakkies Research BV, the Netherlands: EGNOS and the REAL Internet of Things

trakkies has built the world’s first REAL platform for the Internet of Things (IOT). It enables users to keep better track of belongings, events, tasks, appointments, and more. The start-up has developed IOT nodes with ambient intelligence, a smartphone app, and a back-end cloud system for providing helpful, intuitive services and interacting with people, places, and things. Furthermore, trakkies has designed a novel small-data mechanism that identifies individual people, places, and objects and uses EGNOS signals to create smart location references.

To see the regional prize winners, visit the ESNC website.