Fighting pollution by tracking trucks

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Many cars are now being fitted with satellite navigation devices, which tell the driver how to get from A to B. However, similar systems can also be used to follow the movements of vehicles. One of the latest examples is a satellite-based tracking system that prevents illegal waste tipping and reduces pollution. Developed for use with lorries from the Lombardy region of northern Italy, the system monitors the daily movement of 100 vehicles loaded with 200 containers full of industrial waste.

The transportation of dangerous industrial waste from its original source to treatment sites is increasing every year. Trucks carrying the waste-filled containers often travel across Europe on journeys that may last two to three days. Many drivers and companies are tempted to dump their loads by the roadside. This damages the soil, pollutes local water supplies and may create a major health hazard.

Trucks monitored to street level

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Now, in order to make sure that the waste arrives safely at its correct destination, an Italian company has developed a system which uses satellite data for accurate tracking of the trucks and containers. The Advanced Tracking System consists of a satellite receiver that picks up signals from navigation satellites and ground stations. A central computer receives regular information on the exact location of the truck and any changes in the containers it is carrying. Equipment on each container also monitors its status, temperature, movement, etc.

At present, the system uses traditional, low-cost GPS receivers that give a truck’s location to within a few metres. In the future, it will also be able to use even more accurate data from Europe’s Galileo satellites.

Last modified 27 September 2010

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