PSA Used TomTom Maps in Amsterdam Driverless Car Demo

Last week French car maker PSA demonstrated their driverless know-how in “driving“ a couple of cars from Paris to Amsterdam.

The two Citroën C4 Picasso cars left Vélizy, France in "eyes off" mode, i.e., without driver supervision, and covered several hundred kilometres between Paris and Amsterdam on authorised stretches of road.

"Eyes off" mode corresponds to the third level of autonomous driving, which means the driver need not take any action aside from simply verifying that systems are functioning properly.

TomTom provided HD Map and RoadDNA products to enable PSA Group to participate in the self-driving car demonstration in Amsterdam.

HD map is a high precision map for driverless cars and RoadDNA is a compressed database of road surroundings allowing the car to precisely match its position on the map even at high speed.

EU Transport Ministers Agreed on Policy for Autonomous Driving

Gathered today in Amsterdam, the transport ministers of the 28 state member of the European Union have agreed on a declaration that promotes cooperation in the field of connected and automated driving.

In this document the European Commission and EU member states and the transport industry pledged to draw up rules and regulations that will allow driverless vehicles to be used on the roads.

The agreement was welcomed by car manufacturers. “Our industry welcomes the Declaration of Amsterdam as an important milestone that promotes much-needed cooperation between automobile manufacturers, national governments and the EU institutions,â€? said Erik Jonnaert, Secretary General of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

Read the full document below:

TomTom Launches New Traffic Portal for Cities

TomTom announced this week at the Intertraffic trade show in Amsterdam, a new traffic portal called TomTom City that provides live traffic and travel information for consumers and traffic management experts.

Ralf-Peter Schäfer, Head of Traffic at TomTom, commented the news: “TomTom City gives drivers and traffic managers essential insights into the real-time traffic situation and the historical bottlenecks in key cities. This is an important step in our mission to help reduce delays for all drivers.

Using data from over 450 million devices globally (i.e. Portable Navigation Devices, connected smartphone applications, in-dash navigation and fleet management systems) we are creating services that will help cities and connected cars work together to optimise the road network.”

Key Features in TomTom City are real-time traffic status, delay hotspots and a reporting tool for road authorities.

Key indicators

The status indicators show the current average speed observed in the city compared to average speed when there is no congestion; a congestion barometer showing relative congestion compared to a free-flowing period; and a snapshot that shows the number of road closures, construction areas and accidents currently in the city. In addition, TomTom City also shows the traffic incidents on a map, and the traffic flow (speed) on a map. The Traffic information is updated every minute.

Congestion Hotspots

TomTom City shows the top congestion bottlenecks recorded in the recent quarterly period. The information is presented as a summary for ‘All Day’ and separately for morning and afternoon peak periods to reflect the periodical traffic conditions in cities. Summary information is presented on a map view and each hotspot can be selected individually to see road segment delay details.

Reporting Tool for Cities

Road Event Reporter is a new web-based tool that helps road authorities to inform TomTom Traffic users about events that are affecting the road network and its traffic flows. With a few clicks a road authority can report road closures, road works, accidents and other disruptions that are affecting traffic in their local area, now, as well as those planned in the future.

Collaborative Parking Startup Zenpark Raised €6.1M

French collaborative parking startup Zenpark has announced today a funding round of €6.1 million to develop its business that consists in monetizing unused parking spaces in large cities.

The new investors in the company are MAIF Avenir and DEMETER Partners (already an investor), as well as Frédéric Mazzella, the co-founder of BlaBlaCar. Zenpark has raised €8 million to date.

Zenpark was created in 2011 and their turnover in 2015 was €600,000. They work primarily with hotels, administrations, and owners of large residential buildings that have an inventory of parking places underutilized.

The startup equips the parking for free with a system that automatically opens the gate to Zenpark users (via a mobile phone or a remote control) and they share revenue with the owner.

With this funding the company targets to have 1,000 shared parking within the next two years, reinforcing its position of leader in France and starting in other countries in Europe. The company currently opens 15 new parking per month with partners.

With 20 employees today the company forecast to double its staff by the end of the year.

William Rosenfeld, the CEO of Zenpark, was among the speakers at the ConnecteDriver conference organized by GPS Business News last January, where smart parking professionals had converged to discuss the future of the industry.

“It’s not just about technology, dude!” – The human ingredients to make autonomous cars successful

The excitement about the automated car — aka autonomous aka self-driving car — is unstoppable. While few years ago only some industry insiders and nerds discussed about automated systems that will be part of our urban traffic tomorrow, it has now turned into a mainstream topic.

The reason is simple: The automated car has become a reality.

As usual if tech trends turn super popular, Silicon Valley is involved. Google is pushing with its fleet of cars running in and around the Silicon Valley, General Motors is stepping up its game through acquiring specialist company Cruise Automation from San Francisco and Tesla grabbed headlines, when they recently announced that their cars can run autonomously already today.

Fact is that many of today’s high-end cars have systems on board that already allow certain autonomous behaviour — such as auto-control of breaking, cruise control, lane control etc. A modern high end car can today manage to cruise at high speed and come to a complete stop before it would smash into the last car of a traffic jam.

But for truly self-driving cars the ultimate goal is not to have certain functions taken over by the computer, but to drive the car completely independently from any interaction with a ‘driver’. Many of the case studies of car makers have front seats that can be turned 180° around to face the rear seats.

The assumption is that people can talk, read or watch while the car is moving. There is no human attention needed — at least not with respect to the car’s movement.

On automotive and tech conferences there is always one dominant question — when will a fully automated car become reality on our streets, with many vehicles by different car manufacturers and of different sizes etc.? Not like the Google fleet today, which is being monitored in a lab-like testing field and which is not driving any faster than 30km/h. The answer to this question usually varies between 5 and 20 years. It seems that most people consider the technical challenge the main hurdle to be overcome – followed by legal issues such as the question, if a computer can be held responsible for creating an accident.

The electrical vehicle (EV) is in a similar state: the technology is mature (if we can agree for batteries that a range of 400 kilometres is sufficient…). There are many reasons to buy an EV today, but the overall number of EV’s does not take off so far. Consumers don’t appreciate the advantages and they consider a conventional car still more convenient.

The same is true for the autonomous car. The AAA (American Automotive Association) found in a recent study that almost 40% of all people don’t even want features in their cars as they are described above. They don’t trust technology, they believe they can drive better than a system or they just state that it’s annoying.

The same study also said that 75% of all motorists would be afraid of using a fully automated car, and only 20% would be comfortable to be chauffeured by a computer.

There are more studies that show the same picture and they all have in common that they look from a motorist’s point of view. However, one perspective hasn’t been discussed so far extensively, which will play a major role with respect to acceptance and breakthrough of fully automated vehicles — the society in general.

Continued…

TomTom Telematics: 605,000 Units Live, 90% in Europe

In an interview last week in the Journal de l’Automobile, Stéphane Schriqui, Commercial Director for France is providing some insights about the telematics business of TomTom. Adding this with the recent financial results of the Dutch company, it offers a detailed picture of this telematics business.

European business

TomTom Telematics is essentially a European business with 90 percent of its fleet on the continent.

The forecast for 2016 is to add 180,000 vehicles tracked and finally to reach 1 million in the 2017-2018 timeframe.

Obviously external growth is part of TomTom Telematics DNA, the company is on the lookout to acquire additional small players (managing 50,000 vehicles on average) across Europe as it did in the last few years.

Profitability

The EBIT margin of the telematics business was 29% in fiscal year 2015, slightly down from 31% in 2014. In 2015 the monthly subscription ARPU was €15.9 down 2 percent from €16.2 in 2014.

French market

With 60,000 vehicles the French market represents around 10 percent of the total TomTom’s Telematics business. The goal is to grow it with 18,000 additional devices in 2016.

To learn more, read (in French) the interview in the Journal de l’Automobile.

Zubie & Castrol innoVentures Announce Auto Dealer Solution

Aftermarket connected car supplier Zubie has partnered with Castrol innoVentures to launch a joint telematics solution designed specifically for auto dealerships.

The new telematics solution integrates Zubie’s Autodealer Telematics Platform with Castrol innoVentures’ dealer-specific workflow application.

Zubie’s aftermarket cellular OBDII device and cloud services provides rich data for both car owners and dealerships. Car owners can receive real-time actionable information about their vehicles and drivers. Zubie’s mobile app gives instant access to reports, real-time car health alerts, preventive maintenance reminders, customizable one-click app service appointment scheduling, and more.

Through its integration with Castrol innoVentures’ dealer-specific workflow application, Zubie augments the data sent to customers by simultaneously providing customer-permissioned, specific, actionable service-oriented information about their vehicles to the dealership’s service advisors.

The new solution will initially deploy with Motorcars Cleveland, a dealer group with 4 locations in the Suburb of Cleveland. The dealership will deploy Zubie’s solutions for customer service retention and also for better efficiencies through installing Zubie in its loaner and rental cars to better track performance and maintenance.

Geneva Motor Show: TomTom Deals with PSA, Volkswagen, Toyota & FCA

Navigation vendor TomTom today at the Geneva Motor Show announced deals with leading car makers PSA, Toyota, Volkswagen and FCA.

Global PSA Deal

TomTom today announced the launch of PSA Peugeot Citroen’s new global infotainment platform, which is built on their navigation software, digital mas and traffic information service.

This new system will be first available on the new DS5 as “DS Connect Nav”, then on the Citroen Space Tourer and the Peugeot Traveller in the first quarter of 2016. Additional models from all three brands will be rolled out later in the year on a global scale: Europe, Latin America and Mexico, Africa, Middle-East, Asia (except Japan, South Korea and China), Australia and New Zealand.

Lifetime map updates will be included in the vehicle price while a bundle of 5 real-time services will be free for the first 3 years: Traffic, Local Search, Weather, Parking Fuel (the speedcam warning service will be available as a paid option).

“With this major partnership, involving all our products in so many regions, TomTom starts a new exciting journey with PSA Peugeot Citroen, one of the leading car manufacturers in the world.” Antoine Saucier, Managing Director TomTom Automotive.

This agreement, known to be in TomTom’s books for quite a long time, is now coming to the market.

Volkswagen Up! with Smartphone Solution

The new Volkswagen Up!, presented at the show, will feature TomTom navigation starting from June 2016. Drivers will access TomTom’s navigation via a smartphone App (built by a third-party developer) dedicated to the Volkswagen Up! experience. The user’s smartphone is then secured on the driver’s dashboard with a dock.

The App features TomTom’s navigation software “NavKit” combined with digital maps. Volkswagen will also provide optional paid map updates and TomTom’s traffic service.

Toyota Proace

Toyota Proace, a light commercial vehicle developed in partnership with PSA Peugeot Citroen, will receive a new infotainment system featuring a bundle of several TomTom products: Navigation, Traffic, Local Search, Speed Cam, Weather, parking, Fuel) which will be available for up to 10 years.

This announcement further deepens the existing partnership between the two companies, already extended for the new Toyota Touch 2 with Go with TomTom Traffic and Local Search services. Toyota has now increased the period for these services from 1 year to 3 years.

FCA

TomTom today also announced that the all new Fiat Tipo CinquePorte and Station Wagon, and the new Fiat 500S, presented in world premiere at the event, are available with a new version of TomTom’s connected navigation in the new Uconnect 7” HD Nav and Uconnect 7” HD Nav LIVE head units.

This new system combines TomTom navigation software with their digital maps, Speed Cams warnings, Local Search, Weather, and Traffic service.

These systems will be rolled out in Europe and other markets during this year.

INRIX Claims Better Parking Data Than Parkopedia But Study Non Conclusive

At the end of January, INRIX, who bought off-street parking data startup Parkme in September 2015, published a press release and set up an online webinar claiming that their parking data is better than their competitor Parkopedia.

To prove their point INRIX hired market research firm SBD to perform a ground truth assessment of parking information.

SBD looked at 488 random parking lots in November 2015 across Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart in Germany, as well as Boston and San Francisco in the United States. The research firm sent trained data collectors to evaluate on-site attributes lot by lot (backed by photographic evidence), then compared the field results to published information on respective ParkMe and Parkopedia websites.

Based on these findings the study concluded that “ParkMe was 12 percent more accurate than Parkopedia across a set of core attributes that are essential to automakers for customer satisfaction. Most important, ParkMe was 23 percent more accurate providing the precise entrance location to parking lots as compared to Parkopedia. ParkMe was the "clear winner" across parking attributes including pricing information accuracy (91 percent versus 81 percent) and correct parking lot operating hours (87 percent versus 83 percent).“

Studies limitations

While SBD is a well respected research firm we see several limitations in this study and the way their results are promoted by INRIX. First the study was commissioned by INRIX who decided which cities were to be analyzed. Who knows what could have been the outcome of the comparison in London, Paris or Chicago?

Comparing website data for an Automotive purpose?

But the most important part is what has been analyzed against ground truth: website data. The problem with it is that the database available from websites is different from what is delivered to automakers.

More than that, Parkopedia, like many other companies that license data in one hand and have a consumer facing website in the other, are voluntarily limiting and sometimes degrading the data freely available on their website to avoid piracy.

While we are not sure about who has the best data, what we might sure of is that a PR fight has been declared by INRIX.

For more details, see below the report from SBD:

Garmin to Acquire Delorme, Extends Into Satellite Tracking Devices

GPS maker Garmin today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of DeLorme, a privately-held company that designs and markets consumer-based satellite tracking devices with two-way communication and navigational capabilities. Financial terms of the purchase agreement and acquisition will not be released.

One of the most compelling products in the DeLorme portfolio is its inReach series of two-way satellite communication devices. These GPS-enabled devices allow the user to send and receive satellite text messages or trigger an SOS for emergency help, anywhere in the world.

InReach is using the Iridium satellite network. Suggested retail price for the entry level inReach SE is $299 and the more advanced inReach Explorer is $379, with a choice of annual satellite subscriptions or no-contract Freedom Plans with only a minimum 30-day commitment. Freedom Plans start at $14.95 per month for the safety service and go up to $99.95 per month for the highest service level.

Delorme is also selling paper maps, as well as GIS software and digital base maps to enterprise customers.

Garmin said they will retain most of the associates of DeLorme and will continue operations at its existing location in Yarmouth, Maine.

“This Yarmouth facility will operate primarily as a research and development centre and will continue to develop two-way satellite communication devices and technologies,“ Garmin wrote.

This acquisition extends Garmin reach into a new device category where it already has a lot of customers and a powerful brand: hikers and boaters. While InReach is an interesting product it had so far limited visibility and no distribution outside of the United States. With Garmin marketing machine behind it will certainly open up new possibilities and further integration into new devices.