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TomTom and Cisco to address real-time comms for autonomous cars

Navigation firm teams up with network giant to develop low-latency, real-time traffic services for autonomous vehicle management

Dutch navigation device and mapping services supplier TomTom has enlisted networking sector giant Cisco to develop new technology to support the autonomous vehicles of the future with low-latency, accurate, real-time networking capabilities.

TomTom, which became practically synonymous with in-car satellite navigation devices in the 2000s, has since reinvented itself as a software and navigation services company in the face of the decline of such devices, but still holds a strong market position, with its solutions now built into a number of major auto-manufacturers’ vehicles.

Along with Cisco, it is now setting out to develop ultrafast lane level traffic technology that will use roadside data captured by Cisco’s sensors, routers and controllers to build the next generation of traffic technology, combining the data with TomTom’s own traffic fusion technology and Cisco’s internet of things (IoT) platform.

“We strongly believe that IoT and cloud technologies are essential parts to the future of mobility and we are excited to work with Cisco in moving traffic technology forward,” said TomTom managing director of licensing, Anders Truelsen.

“With this project, we are connecting road infrastructure, vehicles, drivers and road authorities, enabling them to exchange information in near real time.

“That is what the IoT is about. With TomTom’s expertise, its gigantic pool of traffic data and innovative traffic technology, TomTom is a strong company to work with in this field,” said Cisco EMEAR president Edwin Paalvast.

The data gathered will be merged with TomTom’s pool of car data, which is drawn from over 500 million devices and vehicles, and displayed and analysed in a TomTom-designed interface for traffic management centres.

Read more about autonomous vehicles

Faster communications and increased accuracy for the real-time traffic services will be vital if the demands of autonomous driving – such as being able to know what lies beyond a car’s sensors, in real time and in each lane of the road – are to be met in such a way that can guarantee safety.

But besides this, the project also aims to slash the cost of traffic monitoring infrastructure. For example, the partners will be exploring the use of distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) technology, which converts a fibre cable into a virtual microphone array to detect and measure the movement of vehicles. These should be much cheaper to install and maintain than more traditional inductive loop sensors.

Read more on Internet of Things (IoT)