Galileo based navigation in public transport systems with passenger interaction

Background & Objectives

There are a multitude of timetable information systems available for public transport. Most public transport operators offer web-browser-based tools. An increasing number of services are also available via mobile phones, and there are various WAP, HTML, SMS and mobile application solutions. Some use real-time data and others are based on a pre-installed static database. Some have a permanent data connection to any server, while others use technologies like SMS. Many applications request address or station information, whereas the use of localisation based on cell phones or GNSS will become more relevant in future. Most solutions offer pre-trip route guidance or on-trip information, although currently there is no real navigation system for public transport networks. The LBS functionality is mainly limited to unshielded areas or is not highly accurate as it is necessary to identify a passenger’s position in relation to a public transport vehicle.

Private car navigation has achieved a large market penetration. It can be assumed that most public transport passengers know about or already use this technology in their cars or have come into contact with it. To benefit from the success of car navigation, those using public transport should be offered comparable functions and equivalent handling as that in their cars.


To put this navigation system into practice, existing studies about the Galileo satellite system, navigation, and mobile applications from former projects and several sources will all be analysed and combined with user needs and general conditions in a meta study, on which the project’s technical developments will be based. The focus will be the development of all necessary applications for the passenger navigation system. Its business plan aims to fit the needs of public transport operators. Functional tests and demonstrations will verify the functionality of the system, and the effect analysis will verify and adjust the proposed business model. Finally, an evaluation and dissemination process will ensure sustainable usability and successful knowledge transfer from R&D to an operational service.

Since the Galileo system is still in its early stages, SMART-WAY will use GPS-based receivers to demonstrate the advantage of navigation systems in public transport. SMART-WAY’s architecture allows the full potential of its technology to be applied with the availability of the Galileo system. For data transmission between mobile devices and the back-end system, SMART-WAY has identified third-generation networks such as UMTS.


Imagine being in a foreign city, getting on the first tram or bus on your way, and 
being guided to your destination through the public transport network –  by your own mobile phone! Despite spontaneous detours you won't get lost in the network.  In case of delays or construction works you don’t lose orientation. 

The idea behind SMART-WAY, to realise this vision, is to develop a mobile public transport passenger navigation system, giving passengers the possibility to act as they would with common car navigation systems. Once they have entered their destination they will be able to get on and off any public transport vehicle whenever and wherever they want to. The system will always guide them to the destination, so passengers will no longer be tied to a (digital) printout of their route.

The objectives can be divided into three categories. First, on a technical level, the SMART-WAY system’s specifications and data concept must be defined and a functioning service developed to match passengers, vehicles and the public transport network. Secondly, on an application level, user needs concerning public transport navigation systems must be understood, an early low-functional prototype prepared and a near-to market application implemented. Thirdly, on a dissemination level, a viable business model for the exploitation of SMART-WAY must be validated.

Kuester Andreas
Fraunhofer IVI
Zeunerstr. 38
01069 Dresden
EUSPA Project Officer: 
Boris Kennes
Total Cost: 
2 380 873 €
EU Contributions: 
1 793 501 €
Project Call: 
FP7 2nd Call
Contract Number: 

Work performed & results

One main innovation of SMART-WAY is to uncouple passenger route guidance from preset and rigid route recommendations from conventional electronic information systems. Without prior knowledge of the public transport network, passengers will be given the best way to reach their destination regardless of the starting point and vehicle. Passengers can act completely freely once a journey has begun, changing vehicles at any time while keeping to their destination. Missed connections, changes to wrong vehicles, interrupting the trip or unforeseen disturbances in the network will not result in a loss of orientation. In the case of problems en route, passengers will automatically be given an alternative route. They will get the most up-to-date details about departure, transition and arrival times as the navigation is based on real-time data not static information.
To show the potential of the idea and receive feedback from real users, an early low functional prototype will be developed after the first year.
SMART-WAY offers a concrete business model aiming at the complete refinancing of installation and operational costs. Costs are based on very conservative estimates, thereby generating earnings for both the transport operator and the software producers.

Photo Gallery

  • SMART-WAY system structure overviewFraunhofer 2009

Dresdner Verkehrsbetriebe AG
The agent factory DE
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Centre for Research and Technology Hellas / Hellenic Institute of Transport
Gruppo Torinese Trasporti
Politecnico di Torino (POLITO)
Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute

Updated: Oct 10, 2018