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Pan-European eCall trial shows the technology works

Three specially-equipped cars have sent thousands of simulated accident messages from 16 different countries to demonstrate that the technology to support a European emergency call system is ready for mass deployment.

The eCall system automatically calls emergency operators if a vehicle is involved in a road accident, sending vital data such as the time, the GPS coordinates of the accident point, and the number of vehicle occupants. With this information, emergency services should be able to arrive at the scene sooner, potentially saving lives.

The pan-European field trial was launched at the electronica 2010 conference in Munich on 10 November and concluded at the eSafety Forum in Brussels on 25 November. Initiated by NXP Semiconductors, it involved partners representing essential parts of the rescue chain, including BMW, IBM, Allianz OrtungsServices, DEKRA, and Deutsche Telekom, as well as automobile clubs AvD, Touring and UAMK.

Setting off from Madrid, Athens and Helsinki, three BMW cars fitted with NXP ATOP modules (Automotive Telematics On-board unit Platform) drove a total of 16,000km through 16 EU countries. During a two-week period, the telematics boxes sent out 15,000 eCalls via the mobile networks of Deutsche Telekom and its roaming partners. The messages were received and processed by IBM and forwarded to Allianz and BMW servers or call centres, demonstrating that the technology can work across borders, regardless of which standards (SMS-based or in-band modem) prevail locally.

At the end of the trial Kurt Sievers, senior vice president and general manager of NXP Semiconductors' Automotive business unit, commented: "We are proud that in this landmark trial, the ATOP telematics system has proven reliable across country borders and technical standards. Large-scale introduction of eCall is about reliability, system costs, and trust. This is why we sent the eCall on tour, supporting the European Union with its implementation in Europe."

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