The connected car continues to rev forward, with both automakers and navigation-technology suppliers enhancing the experience. Automakers are stepping up efforts to enhance in-vehicle systems, and are focusing on voice commands and controls in order to create that distraction-free driving experience.
Earlier this month it was announced U.K.-based automaker Renault, www.renault.com, would release a new, integrated multimedia system, R-Link. Featuring a 7-inch display, steering wheel mounted control, and speech recognition technology, R-Link will be equipped within the Zoe model as the first vehicle.
This announcement furthers the trend of automakers working with leading-edge partners, as TomTom, www.tomtom.com, is partnering with Renault on this announcement to supply the navigation. R-Link’s navigation will use IQ routes and maps from TomTom, and also offer LIVE Services, including TomTom HD Traffic, which provides drivers the fastest route to destinations based on the latest traffic situation.
The R-Link system within Zoe will also include functionality dedicated to electric motoring and range management. The system will receive information from the battery on its current state of charge, which is then used to determine the available driving range of the vehicle. This information is displayed to the driver on the screen to also help provide data around such things as eco-routing, i.e., the ability to select the most energy efficient route.
TomTom continues to expand its footprint in the personal navigation market, as evidenced by such partnerships. In a way, the standalone PND (personal navigation device) makers are finding that diversification helps them stay strong in a navigation market packed with competition from smartphone apps, in-vehicle systems, and more.
In the Jan/Feb issue of Connected World, Ian Hammond, TomTom’s vice president of technical operations, described how the explosion of the GPS-enabled smartphone market means PND makers see opportunity to deliver services beyond the dedicated device.
He envisions scenarios in which connected devices are aware of each other and can connect together to provide more relevant and useful data. “For instance, let’s say you come to a traffic jam; at the moment, all (navigation devices) work the same way: there is a blockage in the road and they all pick the next best route,” says Hammond. “The problem is you tend to move a jam from one road to another. This could completely bring a small town to a stand-still in some instances, if this were to happen.”
He even ponders that in the future we could see connected devices that will be able to intelligently route traffic, and an environment where devices all link together to create one integrated transportation experience. He says, “I fully expect that the future will be devices that link trains, cars, and even walking, to get you from destination to destination … so if I leave from home and need to get to a destination, the device can tell me (which modes of transportation are best for getting me from point A to point B). This is potentially where the next revolution in personal navigation will occur.”