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Sat nav to benefit car insurance

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The European Commission has launched a free satellite navigation system which will benefit those on pay-per-use car insurance schemes by providing precise navigation signals.

The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), which is five times as accurate as current models, will also support the automatic road tolling systems run by satellite. The system is intended to help car insurance companies along with other businesses and individuals.

It will improve the accuracy of current GPS signals across Europe from about 10 metres to two metres, meaning more GPS can include more intricate use, from pinpointing agricultural crop spraying to helping to guide blind people in their everyday lives.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, EU Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani said: "What we are doing opens the door for European businesses and citizens to benefit from the myriad of better applications and new opportunities made possible by more precise navigation signals."

Developed with backing from the Commission and the European Space Agency, EGNOS is made up of transponders aboard three "geostationary" satellites, a ground network of about 40 positioning stations, and four control centres.

However, in the airline sector the technology is currently being certified for aviation use only.

The system is Europe's first-ever contribution to satellite navigation and a precursor of Galileo, the global satellite navigation system the EU is currently developing, the Commission added.

© Press Association 2009