Landmark Navigation for Highly Automated Driving Wins Copernicus Masters 2013

5 November 2013 --- Highly automated vehicles require highly precise and redundant positioning and navigation systems in order to stay on track. With an innovative approach designed to meet this need through landmark-based navigation, HartmutRunge from the Earth Observation Center (EOC) of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has just been named the overall winner of this year’s Copernicus Masters, as well as of the competition’s BMW ConnectedDrive Challenge. DLR’s navigation method incorporatesstreet lights, crash barrier posts, bridge railings, and other roadside features that are easily visible for both vehicles and Earth Observationsatellites. With modern radar satellites, a comprehensive inventory of such landmarks can be compiled with centimetre-level accuracy and applied to digital roadmaps. A vehicle’s optical or radar based system can thus constantly determine its current position based on triangulation of these points.

This idea was submitted to the competition byHartmutRunge, from the Remote Sensing Technology Institute(IMF) of the EOC, DLR who was presented with the EUR 20,000 grand prize by Prof Dr Volker Liebig, Director of Earth Observation Programmes and Head of ESRIN, ESA during the Copernicus Masters awards ceremony at AlteKongresshalleMünchen(Germany).

“Theinterdisciplinary ideautilises Earth observation methods to provide a solution for a challenge the automobile industry really faces,” states Benjamin Krebsfrom innovation managementBMW ConnectedDrive at BMW GroupResearch and Technology. “We’re excited by the high level of innovation evident in this vision and are looking forward to evaluating the next concrete steps here at BMW Group together with MrRunge.”

For the third year running, the 2013 European Earth Monitoring Competition has been looking for innovative solutions for business and society based on Earth observation data. When the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme (GMES) was renamed Copernicus early this year, the competition followed suit with a new look and a new name – Copernicus Masters. It has since become more successful than ever before. This year’s edition welcomed 144 submissions from teams with a total of 239 participantsfrom 23 European countries, representing a 30% increase over 2012.

“These figures reflect the Copernicus programme’s increasing importance as an engine of the European economy,” affirms ESA’s Director General ProfJean-Jacques Dordain. “The business ideas submitted have tremendous potential to be developed to market maturity at one of ESA's BusinessIncubation Centres.”

The competition’s partners in 2013 – the European Space Agency (ESA), the German Aerospace Center(DLR), T-Systems International GmbH, European Space Imaging GmbH, and Astrium Services, which were joined for the first time by the BMW Group Research and Technology –sponsored prizes worth a total of about EUR 350,000 in nine categories.

“The support of these committed partners once again increased the range of application fields addressed in this competition,” reports Thorsten Rudolph, CEO of competition organiser Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen. “Ideas for Earth observation-based services designed to aid in the fight against malaria, the green energy revolution, and improving food logistics in developing countries reflect the high level of innovation potential furthered by Copernicus Masters.”

You can experience the winning ideas live through short presentations to be held on 6 and 7 November at AlteKongresshalleMünchen as part of the European Space Solutions conference. More information is available at

Copernicus Masters
The European Earth Monitoring Competition – Copernicus Masters – was initiated by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and T-Systems International GmbH in 2011 with support of the European Commission. It is also supported by European Space Imaging GmbH and Astrium Services in the form of dedicated Challenges. In 2013, the BMW Group Research and Technology and GEO magazine have joined the competition as new supporting partner and media partner. The competition annually awards prizes to innovative solutions for business and society based on Earth observation data.

For an overview of the winners in all nine categories, please see the attached or visit

Images are available for download:

For more information on the Copernicus programme, please visit:


Lena Klemm, 
Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen,
Tel. +49 (0) 8105-772277-17,
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