What is the role of TomTom in the world of connected infrastructure and vehicles?
Pauline Baudens
Mar 5, 2020

What is the role of TomTom in the world of connected infrastructure and vehicles?

Pauline Baudens
Research Project Coordinator Traffic and Travel Information
Mar 5, 20207 min read
What is the role of TomTom in the world of connected infrastructure and vehicles?
As Europe’s roads become increasingly connected, manufacturers may start considering how traffic providers will continue to fit in. In this context, TomTom is gearing up to embrace C-ITS technology to deliver even more accurate traffic products.
There were 25,300 road fatalities on European roads in 2017, a significant drop compared to 2001. At the beginning of the decade, the EU succeeded in significantly reducing the number of road deaths. But in recent years this has plateaued as traditional methods to increase safety have begun to reach their limits.

In response, cities and authorities have turned their focus to accelerating the deployment of digital technologies and systems that connect vehicles and road infrastructure with the aim of improving road safety, global emissions and road congestion levels.

One of the rapidly emerging technologies the EU is deploying to support safer driving is cooperative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS), otherwise known as connected vehicles and infrastructure.

For TomTom, already a pioneer in floating car data, the technology opens up new opportunities to expand current traffic services and create new products that support cooperative intelligent transport systems. We are excited to explore new partnerships that will help us reach a shared vision for a safer, cleaner and less congested world. 

What is C-ITS?

C-ITS focuses on the communication and interaction between different road actors. It is a wireless data exchange from vehicle to vehicle (V-to-V), infrastructure to vehicle (I-to-V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V-to-I). For example, a connected vehicle can warn other vehicles nearby when it performs an emergency braking maneuver.

This information supports a number of safety and information services, including: collision warnings, traffic jam warnings, cooperative lane change and merging.

With the rise in connectivity, some car manufacturers may assume it is no longer necessary to rely on service providers like TomTom to receive live traffic and incident information. After all, why would a manufacturer require a service to deliver information if the vehicle and infrastructure do this automatically?

But TomTom and live service providers should not consider C-ITS systems as a direct competitor but rather as another resource in improving road safety and decreasing emissions.

C-ITS as a new and emerging technology

While the first vehicles equipped with C-ITS technology have already entered Europe, it will take many years before enough vehicles have the technology to form a complete picture of the road environment. Currently, relying solely on connected car data leaves too many gaps in information to get a complete overview of the traffic situation.

It will take an estimated 20 to 50 years to create a truly connected experience throughout Europe. Traffic service offerings remain the most accurate way to measure traffic flow and incidents. Using service providers in conjunction with connected vehicle data is the most accurate way to measure traffic.

From local to global traffic solutions

Even when more cars have the technology to communicate with their environment, other vehicles and roadside infrastructure, TomTom Traffic data will still play a vital role. This is because C-ITS provides detailed but extremely localized data and TomTom Traffic can provide a global view of the road.

One city may choose to implement five services, and another may choose not to implement any. As a result, there will be little unification between cities leading to a disjointed driving experience across Europe. For example, some cities may choose to use connected roadside hardware to attempt to reduce congestion, but others may apply shared space solutions.

Due to this localization, connected vehicle technology will not be able to give a complete and consistent overview of traffic across city and country boundaries. TomTom’s existing suite of traffic services analyzes real-time incidents and congestion to provide enhanced route calculations and accurate estimated times of arrival (ETA) in over 80 countries. Even with increasingly connected cars and infrastructure, the vast amounts of live traffic data TomTom enables large-scale coordination otherwise unachievable.

With TomTom’s knowledge of the global traffic situation, we can cover the geographical gap and propose a global solution to complement C-ITS services. We don’t believe C-ITS marks an end to live traffic services, but rather recommend a combination approach to gain a more accurate and complete image of the road situation.
Traffic and travel information

With traffic and hazard prediction, better routes and reliable ETAs, we keep drivers informed and help them get where they’re going without worry.
Collecting more datasets to build new tools

The more data, the more we know about traffic and the more we can build new tools to create safer and less congested roads.

In the coming years, more and more vehicles will be equipped with in-vehicle systems that collect floating car data (FCD), such as information about emergency electronic brake lights and collision warnings. Accessing these data sets can improve existing products like live traffic information services and help to innovate brand new tools to improve traffic around the world.

In other words, the more access to information about actual driving behavior, the more accurately we can build services that directly reflect a driver’s needs.
"The more data, the more we know about traffic and the more we can build new tools to create safer and less congested roads."

Pauline Baudens
Research Project Coordinator Traffic and Travel Information, TomTom
Gaining access to lifesaving next-generation FCD data requires cooperation across the automotive industry. The European Data Task Force has already taken the initiative to improve road safety through data sharing with the creation of a dedicated public-private initiative. Founded in 2017, the task force is dedicated to the sharing of data generated by vehicles and infrastructure between member states, manufactures and service providers. This feedback loop is beneficial for all parties as it is based on the principle of reciprocity where safety data is offered in return for safety services.

The final objective of the DTF is to implement the existing EU regulation on safety data access, as well as to inform drivers through the navigation service about safety-related issues.

For TomTom and other service providers, this grants access to in-vehicle sensor datasets containing detection of incidents and road conditions from select car manufactures. We can then process and deliver the information back to drivers and road authorities via EU National Access Points.

Connected vehicles will produce a gold mine of data that will prove extremely valuable to improve and create traffic services.

Paving the way for autonomous driving

At TomTom our direction is clear. We are using our vast datasets to build relevant component services for autonomous driving.

Our HD Maps improve sensor perception, path planning and facilitate precise localization for the safe execution of driving maneuvers. Our products support sensors so a vehicle can position itself on the road with an accuracy of centimeters, so regardless of weather conditions the car always knows what is around the bend. 

Similarly, connected cars currently give drivers the ability to make more informed decisions based on what other vehicles and roadside infrastructure communicate. Other C-ITS services allow the vehicle to make decisions about braking and speed change without informing the driver, such as automatic cruise control and anti-collision safety features. Gradually C-ITS will support more and more automated functions, becoming a vital safety measure for the future of autonomous vehicles. 

TomTom, as a pioneer in FCD, is eager to contribute to the development of the C-ITS market, by taking part in the research project, C-Mobile, aimed at accelerating the deployment of transport systems around Europe. From this project, we received extended floating car data (xFCD) from car manufacturers, as well as exploring potential companies for partnerships. Most importantly, it inspired us to integrate C-ITS into possible future business decisions.

Services such as C-Mobile provide C-ITS bundles that combine multiple functionalities, such as information and warning services. From emergency vehicle warnings, special vehicle prioritization to dynamic speed warnings, cities or local governments select bundles and tailor them to specific urban policies.

What’s next?

TomTom is looking to C-ITS to fulfill our vision to make driving safer and more efficient. Through future partnerships, we can combine developments to build better and more relevant services that path the way for all levels of vehicle automation.
Want to know more?

Could you benefit from TomTom’s products to improve a C-ITS service? Contact us today.
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