UK Firm Snags Galileo Masters Awards - Inside GNSS

UK Firm Snags Galileo Masters Awards

Christine Edwards and Peter Hall of Sci-Tech Systems, Ltd.

A UK start-up company, Sci-Tech Systems Ltd., gathered three prizes in the 2008 European Satellite Navigation Competition — including the overall Galileo Master Award — with a tracking system designed to help rescue persons who have fallen overboard from ships at sea.

A UK start-up company, Sci-Tech Systems Ltd., gathered three prizes in the 2008 European Satellite Navigation Competition — including the overall Galileo Master Award — with a tracking system designed to help rescue persons who have fallen overboard from ships at sea.

Nearly 300 projects were entered in the global competition, with winners announced October 21 at the Systems trade show in Munich, Germany.

Sci-Tech entrepreneurs Peter Hall and Christine Edwards received a €20,000 check from the Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen, which organizes the competition, and up to 12 months of assistance to develop their concept at the Hertfordshire Business Incubation Centre, in Hertfordshire, UK.

The “Person Overboard” (POB) rescue system also won the European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA) special topic prize for the best application of the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and the United Kingdom/Ireland regional prize — becoming the first triple winner in the five-year-old annual competition. EGNOS is a satellite-based augmentation system built by the European Space Agency and nearing full operational status that provides differential corrections to GPS and future Galileo signals as well as integrity alerts to users.

Hall and Edwards propose to develop a personal device that attaches to a crew member’s clothing or safety jacket, along with a signal detection unit linked into a vessel’s satellite navigation system. If a crew member falls overboard, immersion in water will trigger the personal device, which will send out a radio signal containing real-time information about the POB’s position.

The ship’s unit will then detect that signal using the vessel’s existing VHF radio, or internal receiver, and send out an audible and visual alarm to the crew. Using the signal in conjunction with a vessel’s on board navigation system, the crew will be able to track and rescue the POB.

The POB system can be incorporated into a vessel’s existing equipment, making it affordable for everyone, including small boat owners. Hall estimates that the Sci-Tech Systems device will cost about €165, while a signal receiving unit on the vessel will cost about €250.

Three special-category awards and 12 regional awards also announced in the global competition reflected a remarkable range of creative innovations: a system for optimizing cargo volumes, a tourism application named CITITOUR, a mobile phone-based museum guide, a mobile phone-based “guide” to ecological driving, a remote monitoring system for the rehabilitation of patients with heart disease, a mobile wireless rescue service, and an indoor/outdoor container tracking system that incorporates multiple positioning technologies.