Space Products & Innovation

Transportation, Logistics, and Manufacturing

More Efficient Glass Coatings

Space technology also has a role to play in manufacturing. Technology originally developed to measure oxygen atoms outside space vehicles is now being used by glass manufacturers to produce energy-efficient windows. Oxygen is highly corrosive, so levels of this atom around the space station need to be carefully monitored.

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Optimizing Flight Routes in Real-time

Building on research that started at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Boeing incorporated flight path optimization technology into its Direct Routes product. This service, made commercially available in 2011, provides real-time advisories to aircraft for suggested shortcuts that have been pre-checked for traffic conflicts, wind conditions, and other factors.

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European System Enhances GPS Location Accuracy for Aircraft

Air travel also benefits from space technology. As of March 2011, aircraft can use the satellite-based European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System (EGNOS), which improves the accuracy of GPS signals in Europe, to aid in the critical task of vertically guiding aircraft during landing approaches.

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Minimizing Bike Share Losses Through Satellite Tracking

Many U.S. cities, including Minneapolis, New York City, and Washington, D.C., have recently become home to citywide bike-sharing programs. These programs promote exercise and help to reduce automobile traffic, but one of the challenges is ensuring that bikes are not lost or stolen.

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Beijing Bottlenecks Pinpointed With Taxi GPS

Researchers at Microsoft Research Asia used GPS data from more than 33,000 Beijing taxicabs over two years, amassing enough data to analyze every road in the city. This data not only showed areas where traffic slowed down, but also showed where journeys started and finished, and how a commuter traveled in between.

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Determining the Connection Between Health and Commuting

In September 2011, the Nashville, Tennessee, Area Metropolitan Planning Organization selected firms that will use GPS monitors as part of a unique study of the connections between transportation and health. The study will begin with a survey of the daily travel and commuting patterns for 6,000 residents.

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Improving Bus Routes From Space

GPS tracking has provided researchers and city planners with an important source of information for improving transportation systems. Studies using GPS tracking can help planners learn about where people are going, what methods of transportation they are taking, and how funds can best be spent to improve the system.

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Light Rays Create Microchips Faster

The technology used to produce the telescope mirrors for ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray observatory is being extended to the production of smaller, faster, and cheaper computer microchips. An Italian company, Media Lario Technologies, has developed technology that uses extreme ultraviolet rays to create semiconductor circuits that operate 100 times faster.

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Satellites Take Toll on Europe’s Roads

Satellite navigation also is being used to replace current highway toll systems and create a more intelligent transportation system that would enable the assessment of fees based on road use and other factors relevant to traffic and infrastructure management.

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