MUNICH, Germany -- If one satellite navigation system is good, can two be better?
That's the question suppliers and automakers are asking as preparations are being made for the launch of the first of 30 satellites that, in a sense, will provide nearly the same navigation information as the U.S. Global Positioning Satellite system.
The competing system, called Galileo, initially is being financed by the European Union and the European Space Agency. But a large portion of the cost to assemble and launch the satellites will be financed by a private consortium that has not been determined. The first satellite is expected to launch at the end of December. The goal is to have a fully operational system by the end of 2010.
For drivers today with in-car navigation receivers, the GPS system determines their location and can provide directions to a restaurant or resort. Galileo supporters want the manufacturers of navigation systems to install both GPS and Galileo technology into future receivers so users can benefit from both systems. But the added cost to navigation system manufacturers, automakers or car owners, for example, has not been determined. And the added benefit for drivers is debatable.
Electronics supplier Denso Corp. is optimistic about Galileo. Denso will develop a car navigation system next year that incorporates GPS and Galileo technology. But Denso spokesman Goro Kanemasu said, "We believe that costs will rise at first."