In just four years, Europe will bring about a sea change in the world of car and man navigation, which has long depended on a single service source, the American global positioning system. As the continent prepares for the full operational launch of Galileo, its own version of GPS, the European Union and industry are watching with keen interest to see how Japan, a heavy GPS user, eventually positions itself. “Japan would be a very good test market for Galileo because there are many people using mobile phones and people who like gadgets,” Paul Flament, administrator of the Galileo Program at the European Commission Directorate-General for Energy and Transport, said.
Nevertheless, Japan has opted to stick to GPS, while mapping out a plan to launch a satellite system to complement and augment GPS signals, called the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System, or QZSS. Japanese users, in addition, will enjoy the benefits of Galileo”s 30-satellite system even without Japan participating in the program, thanks to an EU-U.S. agreement in June 2004 to make Galileo and GPS compatible and interoperable.
Still, if Japan stays out of the Galileo program Japanese industry will miss the opportunity for direct access to and influence over the satellite system, as well as the chance to have local requirements reflected in its operations. Tele Atlas expects Galileo to make way for a whole new range of applications that are not possible with GPS, which was initially designed for military use and whose signals can degrade or be switched off without advance notice. Continue>>