Not only does your personal GPS help you to get where you want to go, this space technology helps Rotterdam harbour function efficiently, transport trucks supply goods in a timely fashion and is even used to perform traffic modelling to predict and improve daily commute times.
Rotterdam harbour manages the transit and moorage of nearly 30,000 sea ships and 130,000 inland vessels and handles over 300 million tons of cargo yearly. Space technology is used at the Port of Rotterdam not only to track vessels, but also to regulate the dumping of foreign water into the harbour itself. Ships that unload ocean water into Rotterdam harbour can have severe effects on underwater wildlife, and can even potentially spread diseases – something space technology currently helps prevent via GPS.
Ultra lightweight materials used to reach the demanding requirements of spaceflights have found a place in meeting growing requirements for transport on Earth. The first use of carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP's) took place in the space domain, because these materials allow for a large decrease in weight, while maintaining the same strength. Using these composite materials allows for the development of lightweight structures and products, increasing the load capacity and/or saving fuel costs in transport. Also, as part of the European Space Agency’s Technology Transfer Programme, two German scientists have created a solution that will reduce the overall carbon dioxide emitted by trucks, while resulting in a better service at a lower cost. The scientists have re-applied space sensors by placing them on the inside of trucks to measure the amount of space left over. That information is then transmitted via a common cell phone satellite network to a central server. Tracking the available load volume in real time creates the possibility to immediately assign new packages to where more space is available. Whereas packages currently wait at least a day to be properly assigned, the new system can identify the nearest truck with available space in real time.
Dutch researchers have developed integrated applications for traffic forecasting at TNO based on satellite data, databases and terrestrial data. Current developments are focused on bringing in positional data from mobile devices to continuously update traffic models and increase forecasting skills. Software for automatic vehicle detection and velocity measurements is also used to aid in road pricing initiatives and add value for ministries of transport and captains of industry who need to have a highly accurate traffic overview.