ESA supports the development of ubiquitous, reliable and secure connectivity solutions for the car of the future.
The automotive industry is undergoing a technological and business transformation towards a digital car economy. Connectivity is a prerequisite.
The European automotive industry has been a remarkable, steady economic and technological success. In recent years the sector is transformed by digitalisation and global competition: car makers across the globe now recognise that they will differentiate on software-based services and features more than they have ever done in the past.
This transformation will rely on the ability to connect vehicles with their physical and digital environment to deliver a host of services: safety and security, convenience, predictive maintenance, navigation, traffic flow management, reduction of CO2 etc.
Satellite in the Connectivity Mix
EU countries overall benefit from ~95% fixed broadband connectivity, with 5G commercial solutions being deployed everywhere as of mid 2022. Nevertheless, the quality and availability of the coverage is not uniform. For example, it is estimated that on main European roads ~12.4% of the time drivers have no connectivity, especially in sparsely populated, often rural, areas. Broadband (4G+) coverage in Europe is not fully available within cellular coverage i.e., close to 7% of the time, drivers had no broadband (2G and 3G) service when travelling through rural areas.
In 2022, 3GPP release 17 standards covered the delivery of narrow-band IoT through non-terrestrial networks for the first time, paving the way for C-V2X solution implementation, with wideband and 5G and 6G broadband evolutions over time.
Without seamless, ubiquitous and secure connectivity several connected car use cases cannot be realised.
ESA Invests in Innovative Integrated Connectivity Solutions for the Automotive
In the past and coming years ESA has committed nearly 40 million euros in technologies, services and demonstrations destined to enable satcom as part of integrated solutions for vehicles. ESA's funding triggered several million euros in co-funding from companies developing these solutions.
Recently, the Connectivity and Secure Communications Directorate has ear-marked 20 million euros over the period 2023-2025 for further automotive-specific developments, covering:
Open calls (on 18/10/2023):
Working with ESA
There are various paths to collaborating with ESA on these topics, and benefiting from its support, as follows:
Apply to 100% ESA-funded activities to be implemented by Industrial Partners
- open competitive tenders
- ESA defines the statement of work
- ESA publishes in ESA's rolling Workplans (see current open tenders above)
Submit your project to be up to 80% co-funded by ESA
- non-competitive process, subject only to ESA evaluation
- the company proposes the project, in line with its commercial roadmaps
- the company may selects additional partners, forming a consortium
NB. Only companies located in the ESA Member states may benefit from ESA funding; however, partners and (potential) customers may be located anywhere in the world.
Antonio Franchi, Head of Space for 5G and 6G Strategic Programme (Antonio.Franchi@esa.int)
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