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eCall emergency response systems undergo conformance testing at JRC

All new cars  sold in the EU must be fitted with an eCall device which automatically alerts emergency services in the event of an accident.
All new cars sold in the EU must be fitted with an eCall device which automatically alerts emergency services in the event of an accident.
May 24 2019

The performance checks carried out by JRC scientists on eCall devices show positive results.

The testing paves the way for improved accuracy and sensitivity of the emergency devices.

Around 25 100 people were killed and an estimated 135 000 people were seriously injured in road accidents across the EU in 2018.

Along with the tragedy of the loss of life and injury, this represents an annual economic burden of around EUR 130 billion to society.

Since 31 March 2018, all new cars and light vehicles sold in the EU must be fitted with an eCall device.

In the event of an accident, the eCall device will automatically alert emergency services in addition to transmitting the position of the vehicle via satellite.

It is estimated that eCall devices can speed up emergency response times by 40% in urban areas and 50% in the countryside.

They could reduce the number of fatalities in road traffic accidents by at least 4% and the number of severe injuries by 6%.

eCall devices tested at the JRC for performance, accuracy and sensitivity

Following the launch of this life-saving service, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) launched a testing campaign for eCall devices, inviting all device manufacturers to provide samples for conformity assessment by the JRC.

The GSA received a large number of positive expressions of interest from the main manufacturers of eCall On-Board Units from Europe, USA, and Asia.

15 devices were delivered to the EU Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver testing facilities at the JRC site at Ispra in Italy, where the testing campaign was carried out.

The performance of the receivers was thoroughly assessed with respect to a number of key performance indicators.

"We set up a dedicated GNSS laboratory test-bed for the eCall testing. It includes a suite of test scenarios to evaluate the performance of the eCall devices. For instance, we looked at their positioning accuracy in different types of conditions as well as the receiver sensitivity", explains JRC researcher Joaquim Fortuny.

Tested devices perform well

Overall, all 15 devices performed well in terms of positioning in all test scenarios.

Four of the test units were found to not comply in terms of the use of Satellite-based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) corrections.

The performance of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSSs) can be improved by regional Satellite-based Augmentation Systems (SBASs), such as the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS).

SBAS improves the accuracy and reliability of GNSS information by correcting signal measurement errors and by providing information about the accuracy, integrity, continuity and availability of its signals.

The sensitivity test was perhaps the most demanding test for the eCall units, however the majority of them successfully passed.

The details of the test campaign as well as the main results achieved through the testing process of the 15 devices are summarised in a fresh JRC report.

Individual test reports were provided to all the manufacturers who took part in the testing campaign.

"This testing campaign has definitely strengthened mutual trust and cooperation with the on-board unit manufacturers and the test solution vendors. This can provide manufacturers with a deeper insight into their products’ maturity and allow them to address issues before devices are submitted for type-approval", Joaquim concludes.

How do eCall devices work?

eCall emergency response systems receive signals from the EU's Galileo and GPS satellites.

When fitted to a vehicle, the eCall device will automatically contact emergency services in the event of a serious crash.

The system provides vital information such as the vehicle type, the location and time of the accident and the direction of travel (most important on motorways), even if the driver is unconscious or unable to make a phone call.