European Space Agency

MUTIS - Multi-Modal Traffic Information Services


The political and economic integration of the countries of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe in phases will substantially increase the volume of freight traffic along the Danube corridor, which is one of Europe's major East-West transport routes. A primary concern of the transport policy in the European Union and other countries concerned must therefore be to find measures designed to cope with these traffic volumes, while at the same time taking environmental and social impact into account. The aim is to prevent the Danube Corridor from becoming a bottleneck, which would delay both economic progress in the Danube region and European integration.

The MUTIS (Multimodal Traffic Information Services) project is aiming at the attraction of the Danube waterway through the introduction of new advanced telematics applications. The work contains two parts, the first part is the demonstration of the integration of new communication concepts for the generation of Traffic Information in the Eastern European countries and the second part is the integration of the generated traffic information in a Multimodal Traffic Information Services (MUTIS) database.


One key element to deal with current and forthcoming transport volumes is to improve the performance of sustainable ecologically friendly transport carriers (rail and inland waterways) through the use of advanced telematics applications with the aim to foster intermodal transport operations. Traffic information systems for inland navigation (River Information Services - RIS) are undergoing development and will be implemented along the Danube river. Transponders are used to determine the current position by means of a satellite-supported location system (dGPS) as well as for the distribution and mutual exchange of this position information via radio data communication (VHF) with other vessels and land based regional and national control centres.

Intermodal transport operations need a high availability of traffic information services over all modes. The MUTIS project therefore deals with the implementation of an information/data pool which can handle information/data from all transport modes and will also include the gathered information of the proposed demonstration scenario.


The conventional concept of RIS is mainly developed for the actors in the inland waterway environment. An updated concept with the integration of satellite based communication facilities instead of transponder based would make this concept applicable for Rail and Road Information Services too, and would therefore enable all actors to monitor their transport operations. This would enable seamless traffic information services which has advantages on the one hand for economical interested parties (freight forwarders, partners in the transport chain etc.) and on the other hand a monitoring of critical transport operations by authorities (e.g. dangerous goods transportation, calamity abatement).




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     RIS (River Information Services) are undergoing development all over Europe. The system architecture of 'conventional' RIS is based on VHF communication between vessels, and vessels and shore based VHF stations.


The MUTIS project has the objective to analyse the possibility to use modern satellite communication services for these kind of new traffic information services in the inland waterway environment in order to ensure that all relevant data, which are necessary to plan, manage, monitor and administrate inter- and multimodal transport operations are available for all interested parties. Once the concept is proven for the inland waterway segment it can be easily expanded to other traffic carriers.


A vessel will, on its way from Vienna (Austria), Budapest (Hungary), Belgrad (Serbia) to Constantia (Romania) at the black sea on a stretch of approximately 1680 km transmit every 10 minutes its position over satellite communication providers (Globalstar, Iridium and Thuraya) and via SMS. The transmission will take place on schedule, on request, and on event to the headquarter in Vienna. The information gathered about the service parameters of all service providers will be stored in the headquarter in Vienna and on the vessel too and will deal as the basis for the analysis of the applicability of the system for the generation of traffic information in the inland waterway domain.

Current status

The MUTIS project has tested three satellite mobile systems and the terrestrial GSM system for availability and message transfer delay on the Danube river on a round trip between Vienna and Constantia in the perspective of providing services for in-land waterways traffic.


The pilot project tests have measured the availability of the satellite and terrestrial signals between 99.98% for GSM and 79% (for Thuraya) and a mean message delay between 12s (for GSM) and 184s (for IRIDIUM).


Transport management related river information services have communication requirements that are less demanding compared to the ones of traffic management related services. The amount of data that has to be exchanged is much lower and there is no urgent need for high actuality or availability since these services are not safety related. Therefore, a higher transmission delay can be accepted. The transferred data concerns in most cases only one user (point to point). Thus, broadcast functionality is not necessary.


The entire traffic management related river information services are strongly linked to safety. Hence, strict requirements follow for information actuality (respectively transmission delay) and service availability. These requirements cannot be met by the satellite communication services nor by GSM.

  • Fairway Information Services are based on a great amount of data that have to be spread to the users. Since broadcast functionality is not provided by satellite communication services it would be necessary to spread the data by addressed messaging which is very complex and costly.
  • Tactical Traffic Images are based on the spreading of information between vessels. Since this data exchange takes place every 2 seconds it is necessary to transfer the data at high speed and with marginal latency times.

The communication systems under investigation can be utilised in the field of transport management related river information services. But the costs have to be borne in mind. Other technologies are able to deliver the same functionality and performance at lower costs. The big advantage of the satellite communication systems is that they are completely independent from landside infrastructure. They can even be used in areas with no land-based network because of the low quantity of users. One additional benefit of implementing satellite communication can be the equivalent cost for services on long transport routes (e.g. Danube) with calculable costs (e.g. roaming costs).


Despite their theoretical usability the satellite communication systems are not applicable due to a lack of appropriate terminal equipment. Since the original service provided via satellite communication was telephony, only mobile phones are available at the moment. These cannot be integrated into the ship equipment for an operational system. Therefore the development of terminal equipment with modem functionality and external antenna connector - as it is available for GSM - would be necessary to meet the needs and to attract the market.


Status date

Monday, January 12, 2015 - 15:02