Exploring Local
Mike Dobson of TeleMapics on Local Search and All Things Geospatial

More on NAVTEQ, ADAS and MPE (Part 2 of 3)

October 14th, 2008 by MDob

Just to be clear, my conversation with Bob Denaro did not touch on the cost of developing MPE or ADAS compliant map databases. The financial aspects of map updating mentioned below were derived by closely reading the most recent financial documents NAVTEQ was required to file, before it was acquired by Nokia. Next, I did not ask Bob to check my recounting of our conversation, so he may not agree with some aspects of my presenting his views. If so, I hope that he or his designate will straighten me out, if I have accidentally misrepresented any information.

Since so many press releases are used to announce vaporware, I asked Bob Denaro (NAVTEQ’s Vice President of ADAS) if NAVTEQ’s new Map and Positioning Engine (MPE) was a “concept” or a package that the Company is ready to make available to potential customers. Bob indicated that NAVTEQ has completed the specific survey work required for MPE and the MPE solution is now available. Bob added that he did not know of any company other than NAVTEQ doing as an extensive ADAS-related effort on a global basis.

It is very difficult for an outsider to compare the detailed footprints of the map data (or ADAS related map data) provided by different suppliers. Hence, it is difficult to know the actual state of the competition between NAVTEQ, TeleAtlas and Intermap (the principal players in developing highly accurate databases for ADAS) in respect to delivering the “goods”. However, based on the last available 10Q issued by the Company when it was independent, NAVTEQ spent bazillions (technical term) of dollars on map updating. It is hard to determine the specifics of the spend from the publicly available financial data, but NAVTEQ could have spent as much as $300,000,000 in 2007 on map database updating.

Regardless of the actual amount, NAVTEQ is in a position to spend more on map updating and ADAS than any of its competitors (this statement is based on analyzing the limited, publicly available financial information from NAVTEQ, TeleAtlas and Intermap). I think it is likely that NAVTEQ may be ahead of the rest of the industry in this effort, although, in my opinion, the game is far from over due to issues of strategy, focus and determination, among others.

If NAVTEQ is the industry leader, though, why develop a low cost system, especially when they are the leading in-car navigation system supplier?

Bob indicated that MPE is a low cost and small size solution (not all attributes in the NAVTEQ navigation database are required for ADAS) and MPE is of interest to NAVTEQ precisely because it offers a way to insinuate map data into ADAS other than from the Navigation System. The lower cost of MPE opens the door to vehicle manufacturers promoting map enhanced ADAS applications across all model lines, not just in high-end models equipped with navigation systems.

In addition, Bob continued, noting that while there are several critical map-enhanced ADAS applications (e.g. curve speed warning, adaptive power train control, etc.), many other critical ADAS applications in use today are not map-based, but could benefit from map assistance. For example, collision avoidance and adaptive cruise control are sensor-based today and adding map data to the mix could help overcome some of the limitations of the sensors supporting these applications (e.g. fog, rain, snow obscuring the sensor path). Consequently finding a low cost entry for map-based ADAS applications makes NAVTEQ map data available to all ADAS applications.

NAVTEQ’s hope is that the potential to integrate their data with other applications may help make NAVTEQ map data a standard component feeding various applications over the CAN bus. Eventually this could lead to the map data being shared with other applications such as tolling, use-based vehicle insurance, and other applications that would benefit from map matching. Of course, this could develop into a scenario in which every car will have a GPS and NAVTEQ maps onboard – sounds like Bill Gates with his absurd idea that there would be a pc on every desk.

Well, this has run too long, so I will cut it off here. Next time (tomorrow), I will focus on the road and attribute data involved in MPE -including the accuracy specification – and the attributes that could be in MPE over time based on a look at the NAVTEQ Electronic Horizon patents. After that, I head to Germany for a couple of weeks, but hope to continue blogging while on my journey.

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Posted in ADAS, Mapping, Navteq, routing and navigation

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