Navigation systems are now part and parcel of the design of a growing number of new cars. Dashboards are now de¬signed around the screen. One of the leaders in the field is TomTom, which has been working closely with OEMs to popularize what has become an essential source of information in order to navigate increasingly congested city streets.
TomTom Traffic now includes a “Jam Ahead Warning” feature, which pinpoints the precise location of a traffic jam and sends an early-warning alert. “This latest version of TomTom Traffic is now so accurate it can pinpoint the precise location of a traffic jam. The new “Jam Ahead Warning” feature shows drivers in advance exactly where a traffic jam is located and crucially alerts them to slow down if they are travelling too fast. By giving drivers advanced knowledge about the road up ahead, we aim to make journeys safer and more predictable,” says Ralf-Peter Schäfer, head of TomTom Traffic.
For the first time, navigation application providers, automotive partners and government departments will be able to predict congestion ahead and forecasts the anticipated speed that will be driven through busy routes. This automatically improves the fastest route calculation and ETA, he says. In July 20013 TomTom announced a new integration with Esri’s ArcGIS, which provides ArcGIS users with access to TomTom’s powerful real-time and historical traffic solutions. The integration enables Esri users to develop more efficient and dependable routing, journey analysis and congestion management tools. NavKit is at the core of TomTom’s routing navigation technology. “We make our proprietary NavKit routing algorithms applicable to essentially any platform through open and available APIs. This means OEMs can choose our own streamlined, award-winning user interface to operate the navigation engine, or they can access the engine directly and incorporate their own or a third party user interface,” explains the company.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Schäfer what are some of the synergies between TomTom and Sony that helped the latter choose you as a navigation provider.
Schäfer: TomTom and Sony have partnered on navigation devices since 2010, and in 2013 we launched the second generation of products together. The brands are complementary: Sony is trusted for its audio and multimedia systems. TomTom is a well-known navigation brand. The alliance is fostering the best of consumer electronics for a multimedia and navigation.
AI: What are some of the innovations TomTom has introduced through its work with Sony?
Schäfer: Just to mention a few: • IQ routes which provides extensive historical database of “real” travel times calculates the fastest route taking into account the time and day you’re travelling, • MapShare program, which enable map corrections made by other drivers and shared to the community • Live services with the TomTom local search, TomTom Traffic, Speedcam warning (subject to market restriction, and some product restrictions)
AI: For the first time TomTom will be providing its navigation app to Ford for its SYNC in-dash multimedia system – what made Ford decide to go with your navigation solution?
Schäfer: The TomTom Brand is well-recognized in Europe for navigation. Because Ford is willing to choose the leading brands in each category of application that they will offer through SYNC, TomTom was a natural choice. The quality of TomTom Traffic was also a compelling argument for choosing TomTom.
AI: How has TomTom’s relationship with companies like Renault evolved over time?
Schäfer: Through our partnership TomTom and Renault have changed the way navigation is perceived. Navigation used to be a luxury feature, but through a well-defined product offering at less than 500 euros, Renault was able in 2008 to change the rule of game and create navigation as a mass market feature using the TomTom Carminat Brand. This revolution is now behind us, and due to the extending complexity of infotainment system, Renault has brought to life a larger ecosystem for its latest navigation/ multimedia product, R-link. Indeed, R-link is powered by Orange for the connectivity, Atos for the IT infrastructure enabling app store features, TomTom for the head unit, the navigation, the map and the set of live services (speedcam, weather, traffic, local search). Other companies are supplying complementary services. We are today extremely proud to continue partnership with Renault, and that R-link was awarded the first prize on SBD independent study on seven infotainment systems.
AI: TomTom’s navigation, maps and Traffic solutions have been chosen by Renault for its connected multimedia tablet- R-Link – how did TomTom customize its apps for this?
Schäfer: Actually, the TomTom navigation and user interface has evolved to meet Renault graphic identity. The menu structure has been inherited from the PND model (for instance to set a destination, choose a POI in a list…) , but the look and feel has been designed by Renault, with its own style guide. The traffic and map are actually in line with the PND and the previous generation TomTom Carminat. There was the intention of optimizing the interaction of multiple service providers on a large touch screen in the previous version of TomTom Carminat. The focus was on ease of use and optimized interaction for Touch screen.
AI: Give us some examples of how TomTom has had to customize its traffic and navigation solutions in different regions – what goes into such customization?
Schäfer: Our intention is to ensure that we offer world class traffic and navigation solutions to our customer’s needs. If a market requires a specific customization, we are capable to adapt our solutions to ensure they benefit most out of our content and services. When we look for instance at the way destination inputs are made in England or in China, there are specific behavior that have been integrated to enable post code guidance (England) or PINYIN entry (China). The heavy congestion in the extended urban areas of the major cities of China, for example, would not be considered normal in Western Europe. So you can imagine that congestion thresholds can be changed and different road classes can be treated differently to provide traffic information that suits the local region. There are many other configurable parameters that can be tuned to give the best weighting to the different data sources in the fusion engine (Smartphones/PND/taxi etc) to ensure the best quality information reaches our customers.