Chevy Brings CarPlay, Android Auto to 14 of its 2016 Car Line Up

For the 2016 model year, Chevrolet will offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility in 14 car models, starting with the 2016 Cruze compact car, which will debut on June 24, the GM brand announced today.

“For most of us, our smartphones are essential,” said Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. “Partnering with Apple and Google to offer CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility across the widest range of models in the industry is a great example of how Chevrolet continues to democratize technology that’s important to our customers.”

Chevrolet’s seven-inch MyLink infotainment system gives owners a smart and simple way to access both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The eight-inch version of MyLink will be compatible only with Apple CarPlay at the beginning of the 2016 model year. While development and testing is not yet complete, Android Auto compatibility may be available on the eight-inch version of MyLink later in the 2016 model year.

In 2014, the 14 models included in this rollout accounted for more than 2.4 million vehicle sales, or 51 percent of Chevrolet’s total global sales.

See the full list below:

Android Auto Gets Real in First Production Car: Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai today announced to be the first car maker to make Android Auto available in its 2015 Sonata model.

Android Auto is coming with Sonata fitted with navigation system – coming with an eight-inch touchscreen display – available on the Sonata Sport, Eco, Limited, Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T models.

Owners of existing 2015 Sonata with the navigation option can get the Android Auto software update free of charge at Hyundai dealers starting today; it will be available as a download later this summer.

Drivers will also need the Android 5.0 "Lollipop" operating system (or later) and the Android Auto companion app on their device.

TomTom Road DNA: Precise Location Tech for Driverless Cars

When Audi travelled a self-driving A7 car concept along the 550 miles from San Francisco to Las Vegas last January for the CES trade show, it not only had a vast array of sensors onboard (including laser scanners and 3D video camera) but also a map matching technology invented by TomTom.

Because GPS and other GNSS constellations have their limitations, some years ago TomTom started to research other techniques capable of precisely locating a car on a road. The Dutch company came up with a technology – which they patented – internally called Road DNA.

The basic principle of Road DNA is that it correlates the real-time vision of cameras fitted on a car with a database of 2D pictures from both sides of the road. With that it can precisely position a car on a road at a centimeter level at high speed.

What might seem simple on paper is however quite complex in the reality; it needs to overcome several hurdles. First the image correlation algorithm has to be tolerant to road changes, for example trees with or without leafs depending on the season, snow, etc.

Second, it requires to work with a low processing power and a low latency. Third it needs to be scalable in terms of requested storage size.

“The need for high amounts of data or processing power, are often an obstacle in other positioning proposals found in the automotive Highly Automated Driving developments,“ TomTom explained to GPS Business News.

At that level TomTom worked on making the images as small as possible while maintaining enough patterns to do the map matching. According to Pieter Gillegot-Vergauwen, vice president product management Maps at TomTom, the Road DNA database represents around 25 Kb per km of road. A car could therefore embed this data on on-board cost efficiently or query it on demand through a wireless network.

When it comes to reliability, the company explained it has been testing its image correlation algorithm over the last two years and has risen to 98% correlation between images in the Road DNA database and the reality as seen by car cameras. Obviously this technology will be used in collaboration with GPS and other GNSS (GLONASS, for example) sensors.

Road DNA is still in development and not yet a commercial product and TomTom has not committed yet to a launch date, the company said to GPS Business News.

TomTom Unveils New PNDs & Sync Technology

In addition to the their Bandit action camera (read here) TomTom yesterday unveiled two new Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs) and MyDrive, a synchronization tool across PNDs, mobile and a web platform.

The new PNDs are the TomTom GO 510, 610, 5100 and 6100 coming with lifetime world maps, lifetime speed camera and of course lifetime traffic. GO 510 (5" screen size) and 610 (6“ screen size) connect to the cloud via a mobile phone while 5100 (5" screen size) and 6100 (6“ screen size) have an integrated SIM card with free connectivity.

This new range will start at €200.

It is interesting to see that TomTom is now offering speed camera for free, a service that was thus available as a paid option.

MyDrive synchronisation platform

MyDrive is a consumer platform that synchronizes points of interest, addresses and allow drivers to plan a route or view traffic in advance via a web browser or on a mobile app. All data are immediately synchronized across platforms, removing the pain to manually enter addresses or manage POIs on a PND in the car.

MyDrive mobile apps are available immediately on iOS and Android and so is the website at mydrive.tomtom.com The new PNDS launched today by TomTom are MyDrive compatible.

In adition, the previous generation of connected TomTom PNDs (a few million devices, TomTom told us) will also be working with MyDrive through a software update that can already be downloaded.

As such MyDrive has nothing really revolutionary in terms of features, but what is interesting here is the back-end cloud system and the potentiality it offers. TomTom indeed said that MyDrive is open to third party developers, car makers and information providers.

If you want to learn more you can watch the full TomTom keynote below, including the announcement of TomTom Bandit:

Magellan and Abalta Technologies Partner for Connected Car Solution

Magellan and Abalta Technologies have formed a strategic partnership featuring Magellan’s SmartGPS Eco navigation and content platform and Abalta WEBLINK technology that replicates smartphone apps on in-car displays.

The partnership, focusing on cost-competitive connected car solutions for auto OEMs, adds Magellan navigation, smartphone apps, and cloud content to any vehicle that is infotainment ready.

Magellan’s SmartGPS Eco cloud platform aggregates location relevant content, such as fuel prices and business locations, and delivers that content onto the navigation map. The Abalta WEBLINK platform enables the display and control of smartphone apps on low cost, low CPU, infotainment screens.

The partnership was announced last week at the Auto Shanghai 2015 show.

China: VW Lamando is MirrorLink-Enabled

The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), today announced that the new Volkswagen Lamando shipping in China is MirrorLink-enabled. Lamando is a four door coupe similar in size to a Jetta.

“MirrorLink is a natural fit for Volkswagen’s commitment to supporting a new age of mobility,” said Soenke Detlefsen, Head of Electric/Electronic Development from Volkswagen China. “Now that mass-market MirrorLink-enabled handsets are available to consumers, Volkswagen is thrilled to deliver vehicles to support them right off the assembly line.”

Volkswagen entered the Chinese market at the end of the seventies, and is today the market leader in China. In 2014, together with its two joint ventures — Shanghai Volkswagen and FAW-Volkswagen, Volkswagen Group China delivered 3.68 million vehicles to customers in the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, achieving a 20.5% share of China’s passenger vehicle market.

TomTom Navi Goes to Telefónica Firefox OS Devices

TomTom today announces a partnership with Mozilla and wireless operator Telefónica to bring its maps and GPS navigation apps to HTML5-powered Firefox OS smartphones.

“Telefónica has now launched Firefox OS devices in 14 markets and is pleased to see high quality maps and navigation solutions from TomTom that enhance these devices for our consumers in Latin America and Europe,” said Simon Callan, Director Business Development at Telefónica.

“TomTom is excited to be embracing the openness of HTML5 to bring high quality maps and turn-by-turn navigation to the ecosystem,” commented Charles Cautley, Managing Director of TomTom Licensing. “By partnering with Mozilla and Telefónica, we’re opening new markets and opportunities for smartphone users globally.”

Commercial Telematics in MEA Forecast to Reach 4M Subs in 2020

According to ABI Research, commercial telematics subscriptions in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region is expected to grow from 1.82 million in 2015 to 4 million in 2020, at a CAGR of 17%.

“With interest of fleet management suppliers in BRIC countries waning due to regulatory, cultural, or economic challenges, the Middle East and Africa is coming into focus as an alternative region for expansion. With economic growth fueled by human and natural resources in Africa and the oil and gas industry in the Middle East, opportunities exist to offer fleet management and asset tracking technologies in an increasing number of segments including people and goods transportation, construction, mining, and utilities,” commented Practice Director Dominique Bonte.

MiX Telematics (South Africa), Mobiliz (Turkey), and Arvento (Turkey) “already aggressively target the MEA market with premium solutions from their established bases,“ wrote ABI Research.

The company sees opportunities but also challenges for global providers. “To be successful, companies need to develop deep relationships by establishing a local presence through acquisitions, partnerships or joint ventures with local players. Examples include TomTom Telematics’ partnership with Tracker and Pointer Telocation’s acquisition of Global Telematics.“

Yandex Revamps Interface, Adds Crowdsourcing to Maps

Russian leading search engine Yandex has announced yesterday an update to its Yandex.Maps service with a full screen map, the capability to search for a particular building or the name of an organization as well as the option to calculate a trip by car or public transportation.

And while users have long had the ability to edit Yandex’s Public Map, now this functionality has been added to the main Yandex.Maps viewed by millions of users. A simple map-editing tool allows users to update, correct and improve Yandex.Maps, combining their local knowledge with the work of Yandex’s cartographers. Users’ contributions are incorporated into Yandex.Maps once a month, after moderation.

The new map is available on the website maps.yandex.ru and as a mobile application for Android, iOS and Windows Phone. While the English-language version of Yandex.Maps can be accessed at maps.yandex.com, the map editing functionality is currently available only on the Russian version of the service.

TomTom Traffic Index Released for 218 Cities (2014)

TomTom this week released its annual Traffic Index highlighting the impact of traffic congestion in 218 cities in 36 countries over the year of 2014.

The data shows that traffic congestion nearly doubles journey times during the evening rush hour. In 2014, the average commuter spent an extra 100 hours a year travelling during the evening rush hour alone.

See the top cities in the infographics below and more at: www.tomtom.com/trafficindex