PARIS: After 17 years and numerous setbacks and budget boosts, Europe’s Galileo satnav system is due to go live on Thursday with promises of better-than-ever location services. Initial services, free to users worldwide, will be available only on smartphones and navigation units already fitted with Galileo-compatible microchips. Some devices may need only a software update to start using the service, according to the European Commission, which funds the project. “Galileo will increase geo-localization precision tenfold,” European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said ahead of Thursday’s launch. People have become increasingly reliant on geo-localisation for anything from finding bars, pharmacies or the shortest holiday route to tracing parked cars or lost Alzheimer’s patients. With 18 satellites in place so far, Galileo’s signal will be somewhat fuzzy at first, boosted by satellites in the American GPS system. But it will grow stronger and more independent over time as orbiters are added to the network circling 23,222 kilometers (14,430 miles) above Earth.