The Galileo satellite navigation system, Europe’s rival to the United States’ GPS, has nearly 100 million users after its first year of operation, the French space agency CNES said Thursday.
The system, seen as strategically important to Europe, went live in December 2016, having taken 17 years at more than triple the original budget to get there.
Initial services offered only a weak signal, and some of the atomic timekeepers on the satellites failed while two satellites were placed in the wrong orbit.
But additional satellites have been added since, and by 2020 Galileo is supposed to offer much greater accuracy than GPS, pinpointing a location to within a metre, instead of several metres.
Apple’s latest iPhones as well as Samsung devices are Galileo-compatible, as are cars and other connected objects.
CNES said airlines including Air France and Easyjet also plan to adopt the system.
The Galileo programme is funded and owned by the European Union, which no longer wants to rely on the military-owned competitors—GPS and Russia’s GLONASS.
Starting this year all new cars sold in Europe will be fitted with Galileo for navigation and emergency calls.
Clients of a paying service will be able to receive even more accurate readings of down to just centimetres, aiding search-and-rescue operations and improving the safety of driverless cars.