ITS Equant, a newly formed consortium that aims to use satellite systems to support safer roads (and get autonomous vehicles on them faster), has secured a €1.2 million funded project from the European Space Agency. The consortium is formed by Valerann, a startup based in London and Tel Aviv that develops road traffic management systems, and Excelerate Technology, a Welsh tech company that offers satellite connectivity solutions. The project, which was secured with the help of the Satellite Applications Catapult, will help Valerann leverage satellite communications and GPS technologies to make its system both scalable and — crucially — available as an off-grid solution. That means technology for more efficient traffic and safer self-driving vehicles “can be deployed on any road, regardless of whether these roads have existing connectivity,” explains Valerann CEO Gabriel Jacobson. In fact, he cites, about 36 percent of UK highways don’t have stable 4G connectivity (and in some cases, no cellular connection whatsoever). Using sensor studs and software, the Israeli-born startup has already developed a Smart Roads System, raising $5 million in seed funding since its launch in 2016.
Excelerate, on the other hand, has been working on connectivity solutions for the last twenty years. The company describes its four functions as “inventor/developer, systems integrator, 24/7 global technical support provider, and a network operator in satellite and 4G.” Based in Cardiff, the team has outposts in France, the Middle East, Australia and the US. Over the next 18 months, the satcom company will collaborate with Valerann to integrate satellite technologies into its Smart Road System. The teams hope their project will help accelerate the adoption of autonomous vehicles.
Lead photo: Valerann installing geo-accurate sensors along the road