The German company 'etamax space' has developed an innovative mobile flood monitoring system that uses satellite navigation to measure water levels of rivers in near-real time, enabling authorities to react quickly and thus potentially reduce damage.

This system responds to the problem that during flooding events there is still a lack of highly dense and accurate real-time data on water levels in well-developed areas such as Europe and in particularly in developing countries.

Project: G-WaLe ‘floater’

The G-WaLe ‘floaters’ is the first mobile water measurement system for rivers that applies global navigation satellite system (GNSS) technologies to report the water level of an endangered river-zone in near real-time.

Floods represent a worldwide problem that causes economic and ecological devastation of afflicted regions and claim thousands of lives each year. Worldwide climate change and global warming are likely to raise the number of floods considerably. 

The extent and occurrence of floods are hard to predict, as most flood measuring methods nowadays lack accurate real-time data of the development of the water levels. Etamax’s G-WaLe system, together with international consultancy and research institution DHI Wasser & Umwelt, considerably improves flood predictions by using satellite navigation.

A set of G-WaLe floaters can be anchored in the river to provide near real-time positioning measurements, which can then be correlated with a fixed reference station to a user data centre. The collected data can be used for a better calibration of river models for preventive flood protection and to support operational forces in the event of a crisis.

The system can be easily dispatched by ground or air transport to an endangered area and can use satellite navigation services and data forwarding via GSM or, in the future, satellite communication.

From space to industry

The G-WaLe ‘floaters’ operate based on satellite-based navigation information. Initially the system uses GPS navigation data. Eventually the more accurate Galileo navigation system will be used.

ESA Business Incubation

ESA’s Business Incubation Centre at the European Satellite Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt is providing etamax space with funding, help in developing the product and bringing it to market.

Potential customers for the G-WaLe are, for instance, water boards, governmental institutions, public authorities responsible for water resources and flood management, industry located at river zones with a need for protection of their installations and insurance companies interested in accurate damage forecasts in flooded areas.

The G-WaLe system has successfully demonstrated the proof of concept through laboratory and real-time testing of the floaters in lakes and rivers. Market entry of the product is expected in 2009.

Incubation period and location

etamax space’s incubation team is being hosted at the Centre for Satellite Navigation Hessen (cesah), from May 2007 to May 2009.

Etamax team: Michael Rakowski (hardware developer), Pablo Beltrami (project manager), Alex Luginin (software developer).


Holger Sdunnus is CEO of Etamax and was the European Satellite Navigation Competition finalist for Germany’s region of Hesse in 2006.


Pablo Beltrami

Head Office
etamax space GmbH
Richard-Wagner-Str. 1
38106 Braunschweig

Phone: +49 (0)531 380 24 00
Fax: +49 (0)531 380 24 01


Darmstadt Office at
ESA BIC Darmstadt
Robert-Bosch-Str. 7
64293 Darmstadt

Phone: +49 (0)6151 667 36 30
Fax: +49 (0)6151 667 36 31


Corporate website:

’G-WaLe’ website: