Irish software firm Mapflow is part of a consortium of European companies awarded a €1m contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) to devise a satellite-based system that will calculate toll charges for individual road users.
The initiative is part of the European Commission’s plans to start charging drivers for their use of public roads throughout Europe through a standardised toll system.
Standard ‘toll booth’ operations require expensive equipment installations and can have the undesired effect of diverting traffic onto unsuitable alternative routes, such as happened with the opening of the Drogheda by-pass. The ESA project, known as ARMAS, aims to use satellite-based tracking linked to a black box in every vehicle, with the owner remotely billed according to specific road use, time of day and distance travelled.
Mapflow completed a feasibility study on satellite-based virtual tolling for ESA last year. The current contract (ARMAS II) will address issues such as positional accuracy for toll collection as well as fraud detection. Mapflow is providing the primary technology that generates the road usage charge based on the distance travelled.
A major objective of ARMAS II is to perform live trials that demonstrate tolling based on satellite positioning on highways (distant tolling) and in urban areas (zone tolling). These trials will also demonstrate an SOS request service and advanced traffic management features. Initial trials will take place in London this month with a symposium to discuss results scheduled to take place in Dublin later in the year.
The final project demonstrations will take place in Portugal, Ireland and the Netherlands in March 2005.
By Brian Skelly