Google Maps Rival Says the Future of Navigation Is All About Car Sensors

Navigation apps will soon collect most data from vehicle sensors 9 photos
Photo: TomTom
Original navigation software on a 2010 MitsubishiOriginal navigation software on a 2010 MitsubishiOriginal navigation software on a 2010 MitsubishiOriginal navigation software on a 2010 MitsubishiOriginal navigation software on a 2010 MitsubishiOriginal navigation software on a 2010 MitsubishiOriginal navigation software on a 2010 MitsubishiThe very first version of Google Maps traffic info
As cars are getting smarter, so do the technologies that are available behind the wheel. The digital mapping space, for example, is going through a major transformation, especially as companies investing in this market have found new ways to deliver fresh data to drivers on the road.
It all comes down to information collected from the sensors installed in our cars. Using the available cameras and the army of sensors that are now available in new-generation vehicles, pre-installed software can collect a large amount of data that can eventually be used to determine the traffic conditions and help keep the digital maps updated nearly in real time.

Yu Guo, TomTom VP of engineering focused on automated map feature production, traffic, and travel information, says this is actually the one thing that will define the concept of digital mapmaking and navigation in the future.

Right now, applications like Waze rely on a crowdsourcing engine to let users know where they might come across a traffic jam. In the future, the software embedded into cars can collect information from vehicle sensors, process the data, and figure out you’ve been sitting in traffic with great accuracy. The same info can then be transferred to other vehicles on the road in advance, letting them know where a traffic jam is taking place.

Eventually, navigation solutions can use the data specifically to look for faster routes and make the road more predictable, therefore contributing to enhanced safety behind the wheel.

The TomTom expert warns that creating a real-time map and delivering information to other vehicles involves two big challenges. First, companies need to define what real-time data actually means, as certain information provided by vehicle sensors does not require frequent updates, such as administrative borders. On the other hand, hazard warnings need to be generated and shared as soon as possible.

And then, the companies that are investing in this space must protect data security and privacy. It’s not hard to figure out why this is such a big deal given how much data is collected from vehicle sensors, so additional regulations might also be needed.

At the end of the day, the TomTom expert is undoubtedly right and the future of digital maps seems to be centered on solutions that help deliver faster updates, thus pushing the whole concept close to a real-time approach.

This is where most companies, including Google itself, seem to be aiming. While the mobile version of Google Maps isn’t collecting any data from the vehicle itself, the version integrated into the car and powered by Android Automotive has access to more information, including even the current battery range. This way, Google Maps can look for more efficient routes, eventually making sure the vehicle has enough power to reach the destination.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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