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How mapping gets green

IRVINE AITCHESON of Nokia looks at how advanced mapping technology is supporting location-aware applications and services and helping to make driving more eco friendly.

The COP17 Convention on Climate Change held in Durban in December refocused attention squarely on green initiatives. Reducing fuel consumption is a key ecological issue and evolving navigation and location technology is supporting the global move towards increasingly eco-friendly vehicles.

The standard navigation system alone can have a significant ‚green’ impact by helping drivers reduce both fuel consumption and emissions. But navigation systems are beginning to go much further by calculating routes which minimise fuel consumption. Known as green routing, this feature uses information on digital maps ‚ such as the NAVTEQ Map – to identify hills, sharp bends, start and stop sequences, traffic lights, speed changes and other factors which are known to impact fuel efficiency.

To be at its most fuel efficient, the car needs to be driven smoothly with a minimum of speed or gear changes. Fuel is continually wasted by accelerating unnecessarily ‚ for instance, just before a bend or roundabout ‚ or using the wrong gear on a steep hill. This takes us to the next step ‚ green driving which is designed to influence the way we drive and hence improve fuel efficiency. By anticipating what is ahead on the road using the same digital map data as navigation systems, the driver is advised what speed or gear is appropriate.

Green driving programmes currently mainly advise drivers on how they should be driving but some cars do already offer features which are automatic.

Dynamic and accurate 3D imaging

We are surrounded by 3D images on televisions, cameras, games consoles and, of course, on navigation devices. 3D technology makes our devices visually more dynamic but also opens the door to exciting developments such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

Maps with ADAS attributes offer a unique level of 3D road geometry accuracy, which is already used for safety and comfort related applications. Cruise Control, for example, typically helps drivers maintain a constant speed. When faced with hills, these systems may downshift for the climb but when the crest of the hill is imminent, it may be easily be reached by easing the throttle and staying in a more efficient gear. New Predictive Cruise Control Systems use digital map data to ‚look ahead‚ and decide on the best throttle position and gear for a hill or even a bend.

An accurate digital map, combined with GPS positioning, becomes the ‚eyes of the car’ and can detect appropriate (or inappropriate) speeds when approaching a sharp bend. The more reliable the map, the more it can be used to help the car anticipate what lies ahead.

NAVTEQ True is a cutting edge approach to map collection technology developed not only to enable the higher levels of quality required for advanced applications such as ADAS, but also to support full 3D representation and new visual experiences (such as augmented reality) on our navigation screens. It uses a combination of LIDAR: panoramic and high resolution cameras: and GPS and IMU positioning equipment – all collected data is geo-referenced, so imagery and 3D digital data points can be superimposed together

Staying connected

Technology has turned us into a society, which expects information to be instantly available at our fingertips. This connectivity has led to the development of a host of exciting location-based services, which have digital mapping at their foundation. It all started with traffic information, which is now the number one, online service expected by drivers but others are fast emerging. For example, Multimodal navigation combines navigation for drivers with pedestrian guidance featuring detailed local information, which enables people to navigate efficiently on foot or via public transport systems. The journey is then completed with indoor maps, which are also now beginning to appear on the market to guide people around complex interiors such as shopping malls or large sporting venues.

Today’s fast moving society spends a great deal of time on the move and the demand for precise and accurate positioning at all times is growing along with the demand for more and more location-aware applications and services. Digital map data is the cornerstone, which enables positioning and therefore supports a host of exciting developments – and will continue to do so in the coming years.


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