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This page was published on 26/01/2007
Published: 26/01/2007


Published: 26 January 2007  
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Energy  |  Transport  |  Environment  |  Research policy


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European research aims for greenest path from point A to B

Satellite navigation systems can be lifesavers when driving in unfamiliar territory. Be it on isolated country lanes or in a hectic city centre, SatNav systems can reduce stress by orders of magnitude by letting you rely on the digital voice to tell you exactly where you need to turn. And while SatNav offers you the possibilities of choosing the quickest route or most direct, what about those who want to take the most environmentally friendly, which may be neither of the above. A European research team is developing a product to do just that. They are attempting to develop SatNav technology that has the ability to identify the greenest route from point A to point B. A recent New Scientist article had a look at the project and discussed its chances for success with end users and other players in the production chain.

Satellite navigation systems, such as the EU's Galileo navigation system may aid in greener transportation. © Matt+
Satellite navigation systems, such as the EU's Galileo navigation system may aid in greener transportation.
Research for the green SatNav system is headed by Eva Ericsson of the Lund Institute of Technology in Sweden. Dr Ericsson was integral to the EU-funded FP5 project ARTEMIS which also sought to develop an improved emission model for road transport across the EU. She has built upon the FP5 project to develop this new system.

Dr Ericsson along with colleagues Hanna Larson and Karin Brundell-Freij have tested their prototype on the streets of Lund, and have been able to successfully identify routes which pollute less than standard options, according to New Scientist.

The research team developed different fuel efficiency criteria for three types of car on 22 streets. Each criterion was based on such factors as road quality and traffic patterns during peak and off-peak times. They were able to reduce normal emission levels by 8 percent using their newly developed technology, though they suggest real world savings might be closer to 4 percent, New Scientist reports.

Despite impressive fuel economy, the green technology may have an up-hill battle on its way to market. New Scientist contacted other members of the production chain for navigation technology to gauge what the market's response might be to the product.

Determining the green factor of every possible road may be one of its most significant obstacles. “Making the measurements to give every street in the world a fuel consumption factor will be too expensive,” Liévin Quoidbach at Navteq, a supplier of digital SatNav maps based in Zaventem, Belgium, told New Scientist.

The Lund research team remains undeterred. They hope that eventually enough drivers will volunteer their cars as probe cars supplying useful information to operate the SatNav system.

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See also

New Scientist, issue 2585
Lund Institute of Technology
GALILEO European Satellite Navigation System

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