ESA title

Automated Road Transport

  • Activity Kick-start Activity
  • Opening date 13-03-2017
  • Closing date 24-04-2017


Automated road transport is considered one of the major key technology influencing and shaping the future mobility and quality of life since it addresses many of the challenges of today's transport system such as road safety, to reduce accidents caused by human errors, efficiency, to increase transport system efficiency and reduce time in congested traffic, environment, to decrease vehicles emissions, and comfort, to increase accessibility to city centres. Several level of automation are envisaged from partially automated driving, meaning that the system assumes some control of the vehicles, to fully automated. A complementary aspect to automation is the connectivity where connected vehicles (cars, trucks or buses) can exchange information wirelessly with other vehicles and infrastructure and also with the vehicle manufacturer or third-party service providers.


Kick-start Activities elaborate the business opportunity and the technical viability of new applications and services exploiting one or more space assets (e.g. Satellite Communications, Satellite Navigation, Earth Observation, Human Space Flight Technology).

This call for Kick-start Activities is dedicated to the theme "Automated Road Transport", which means that is open to ideas for services addressed to local authorities, infrastructure/road operators, public transport operators, logistics companies, private drivers, fleet operators and other relevant stakeholders in this sector. Such services can cover topics as:

  • Managing a network of automated road vehicles
  • Monitoring automated trucks driving system
  • Providing optimal decision support systems for automated road transport from big data analytics and optimisation
  • Resilience of the automated road transport to cyber attacks on vehicles and infrastructure

Exploitation of space-based data and technology is key for the proposed Kick-start Activity theme, with the following considerations:

  1. Satellite Navigation (SatNav) is essential to provide an accurate location to track & trace automated vehicles, to guide to target locations, to operate traffic management systems and others. SatNav can also enable location-based services such as to geo-localise points of interest, to enable autonomous car sharing, parking and fare payment. In addition to GNSS receivers, wireless connections, radars, lidars and other sensors installed on the automated vehicles will enable them to monitor the surroundings, to talk to each other and with the infrastructure in real-time and respond to changes instantaneously.
  2. Satellite Communications (satcoms) is essential to ensure global communications for any of the above data services enabled by SatNav whenever the terrestrial communications are absent or not reliable. In case of network failures or cyber-attacks targeting terrestrial communication, satcoms may be used to increase communication network robustness and resilience.
  3. Earth Observation imagery can be used to provide the maps required by the traffic management, as well as evaluate the conditions on the ground, assess changes and provide key data for monitoring and forecasting the air pollution, etc. Earth Observation derived data are used to provide meteorological information such as wind speed and direction, humidity, and others that have to be taken into account into the models contributing to traffic management services.

Authorisation of funding

For the Thematic Call on "Automated Road Transport", the following ESA Member State have already made funding available: Austria, Germany, Norway, Luxembourg, Poland and the United Kingdom.

In case you intend to submit a proposal for a Thematic Call and your company/organisation resides in another country, you are encouraged to contact the National Delegation.

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