Press release | 15.6.2017
Venice/Munich, 15 June 2017 -The European Patent Office (EPO) honoured French engineer Laurent Lestarquit, his Spanish colleague José Ángel Ávila Rodríguez and their team with the 2017 European Inventor Award for the development of the two primary signalling technologies for Galileo, Europe's global navigation satellite system (GNSS). Their inventions help Galileo provide exceptional accuracy, save on satellite power, and ensure compatibility and interoperability with other leading navigation satellite systems. Currently in initial operations, Galileo will provide a wide range of new features and services that will help make it the world's most advanced GNSS when it becomes fully operational in 2020. The multinational team, which also includes German scientist Günter Hein, French team lead Jean-Luc Issler, and French-Belgian engineer Lionel Ries, were distinguished in the "Research" category, one of five categories of the European Inventor Award, at a ceremony held today in Venice.
"The signalling methods developed by this truly European team are among the key technologies that set Galileo apart from other current satellite navigation systems, providing a basis for both technological advancement and economic growth in Europe," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "The growing importance of satellite navigation applications in both business and our daily lives makes their contribution particularly valuable."
The award ceremony at the Arsenale di Venezia was attended by some 600 guests from the areas
of politics, business, intellectual property, science and academia, and opened
by the EPO President together with Carlo Calenda,
Italy's Minister of Economic Development.
The European Inventor Award, now in its 12th year, is presented annually by the EPO to distinguish outstanding inventors from Europe and around the world who have made an exceptional contribution to social development, technological progress and economic growth. The winners were chosen by an independent international jury from a pool of more than 450 individuals and teams of inventors put forward for this year's award.
Lestarquit, Ávila Rodríguez and their team faced several exceptional technical challenges in their work in the Galileo Signal Task Force. They needed to create highly accurate positioning signals while remaining within a limited frequency range agreed upon in earlier EU-US negotiations. They also had to ensure that Galileo's signals would operate and not interfere with those of the US-led GPS and Russian GLONASS systems. And, they had to conserve limited satellite power. "Galileo's ambition is to become the most accurate and reliable navigation system in the world - providing accuracy down to the centimetre-level," says Ávila Rodríguez. "To achieve all that, we had to sculpt a superior signal that nobody would believe to be possible," says Lestarquit.
Two signalling techniques - called the Composite Binary Offset Carrier (CBOC) signal and the Alternative Binary Offset Carrier (Alt-BOC) signal - invented by the team and patented by the EPO - meet these challenges head-on.
Developed by the European Space Agency under the aegis of the EU, Galileo is an independent, civil-controlled navigation system, which is intended to ensure European autonomy in an increasingly important field. It is expected to have significant economic benefits: As a "service enabler" rather than a standalone service, Galileo can spur the creation of added value and jobs in a wide range of sectors from medicine to transport to computer science. In total Galileo is expected to have a net positive economic impact of EUR 90 billion over the next 20 years.
In addition to fostering economic growth, Galileo will also provide next-generation features and services for users of the estimated four billion current GNSS-connected devices, which are expected to nearly double to some seven billion by 2019. Through its greater positioning accuracy - due in large part to the signalling technologies developed by Lestarquit and his team - Galileo can support current and future applications ranging from safer and more efficient travel to multimodal logistics, 'smart city' management as well as improved infrastructure planning.
"Galileo is an enabling technology upon which brand new services, new jobs and applications are expected to grow and appear in the coming years. When we created these signals, we had the dream to build something for Europe," says Ávila Rodríguez. "I think this patent shows that when the nations of Europe work together towards a common future, we can achieve great things."
Note to editors: availability of AV and photo materials on 15 June 2017
Director External Communication