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Airbus and SNCF sign partnership on location technologies

By [email protected] - 28th June 2019 - 17:56

At the recent Paris Airshow, Airbus Defense & Space pledge to cooperate on elements of a new rail system for the future

Saint-Denis, France. Pierre Izard, Director General of Systems and Technologies at SNCF (pictured above left) and Marc Nasr, Director of Space Systems at Airbus (above right), signed a partnership to research the precise location and safety of trains.

France's national state-owned railway company SNCF and Airbus will jointly explore innovative localization technologies for railway operations based on satellite navigation. This alliance is based on the expertise and know-how of Airbus in the field of satellite systems and of SNCF’s innovation accelerator, TECH4RAIL, which exploits technologies proven in other industries. In undertaking the project, the partners aim to extend the deployment of their research to the entire rail network in France and across Europe.

To locate trains, rail and track operators have historically relied on equipment installed along the track. This is proven and reliable, but expensive to install and maintain, sensitive to climatic conditions, and does not lend itself to adding rail capacity. With the advent of new uses arising from autonomous trains, as well as customer expectations for punctual services and timely information, the need to know the position of trains on the tracks, is considered an indispensable element for the rail system of the future.

In pursuit of this goal, the partners aim to demonstrate, in the railway environment, the performance of a new concept (continuous localization) using technologies such as inertial units, satellite tracking (including the use of European Galileo and EGNOS satellites) and sensor fusion. The three-year partnership will involve both experimental and applied research by:

(1) Exploring emerging needs and designing the architecture of the future railway location system

(2) Evaluating its performance with the development of digital simulators, and

(3) Applying the results to commercial trains.

In commenting on the move, Pierre Izard said, "SNCF welcomes this collaboration with Airbus Defense & Space to demonstrate, in the rail environment, the performance of a new concept of locating trains based, in particular, on the GALILEO and EGNOS navigation satellite systems. EGNOS V3 (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System) is a program of the European Union, managed by GSA and ESA. Designed originally to meet the needs of aviation, it is being evolved to address maritime and rail transport requirements. The expertise and support of Airbus Defense & Space will be useful for this and to contribute to the creation of a European standard for railway location."

Marc Nasr also welcomed the move: “Supporting such projects is totally in line with our desire to put space technologies such as localization, at the service of citizens."

Read More: Transport & Logistics

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