French Space Agency chief: ‘Galileo will guarantee our independence’

Galileo will be more accurate than GPS. [Daniel Lombrana Gonzalez/Flickr]

Jean-Yves Le Gall, the head of the French Space Agency (CNES), spoke to EURACTIV’s partner Ouest-France about Galileo, Europe’s competitor to GPS that has just come online.

What does Galileo have to offer that is new?

This satellite positioning system is far more accurate than its competitors: the American GPS can locate you within a street, to the nearest ten metres or so; Galileo knows which side of the road you are on, down to one metre.

It also time-stamps events down to one billionth of a second. This opens the door to a host of applications, some of which we cannot even imagine yet: it will become as important to our daily lives as electricity or the internet.

What is at stake for Europe?

Guaranteeing our independence. American GPS is first and foremost a military tool: if the US cuts the chord tomorrow, as they have done in certain warzones (like Iraq), we could find ourselves in trouble.

How can we access it?

Using a simple chip, which works just like the one in your phone and allows you to access Galileo, GPS and other applications at the same time. In the coming months, the new iPhones and Samsungs, but also things like new cars will be equipped with cross-compatible chips.

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