It’s no secret that the in-car navigation experience is pretty bad. For years, drivers have ignored the navigation in their dash opting for the one on their phones. It has just been a flat-out better experience: better user interface, faster search, more up-to-date maps, and more accurate traffic data. In-car navigation, based primarily on embedded navigation with data stored in the vehicle, cannot compete with cloud-based services.
That’s starting to change. Auto OEMs now realize they need to offer a better experience or cede the market to Google. As Google is now taking direct aim at the in-car experience, the option of a sub-par experience is no longer tenable.
At Mapbox, our maps are already used by leaders across the automotive industry, including Mobileye, Samsung, NNG, and Porsche. While each implementation is unique, our automotive strategy leverages three essential pillars to drive solutions that allow automotive companies to bring competitive solutions to market:
- Responsive navigation based on cloud-based services
- Platform for powering dynamic data updates
- Custom UX that lets OEMs leverage their unique brand and data.
After years of working with a broad developer base and designing amazing UX experiences, updating maps based on the sheer volume of dynamic data from our 500 million MAUs, we’re in a position to move the market.
Navigation based on cloud-based services
The leading OEMs are responding to this need to shift to cloud-based services. This is most apparent with out-of-date maps, but it hits the whole experience. Leading designers are rethinking the driving experience with a view to create something new. They’re moving away from generic experiences and leveraging the brand’s knowledge of the driver and unique data assets only available to the OEM to create an experience as customized to the driver as the car itself.
Porsche’s design team is a great example as they look at the next generation dash + mobile for EV’s. We collaborated with the Porsche team to create a navigation experience that matches the soulfulness, excitement, and sheer joy of driving. Watch the video “Collaboration between Mapbox and Porsche on future navigation“ or the scenes from the garage on our blog.
The goal for Porsche is to use its cars’ navigation feature as a way to make exploring the world on four wheels more fun and engaging — and thus make driving more experience than chore. Mapbox’s software is useful here because it lets users build their own kinds of maps. Designers from the two companies are working together to explore new ways of using in-car maps, making them more than tools for getting from one place to another as efficiently as possible.
With Porsche, we’re pulling tech from across our platform — the Vision SDK for Augmented Reality Navigation, the Maps SDK for Unity for 3D route previews, the Navigation SDK and the Maps SDK for directions and sharing routes socially with others, and Mapbox Studio to design a fully custom look and feel.
“We connected with Porsche over this challenge, and the opportunity to reimagine navigation in a way that surprises and delights — a human machine interface that is efficiently designed for drivers, navigating the curves and scenery of the world’s most thrilling drives.” Brennan Boblett, Director of Product Design: Automotive & Navigation at Mapbox
Platform for powering dynamic data updates
Consumers expect that their navigation will include the best up-to-the-minute routing and ETAs based on the real-time road networks and traffic. Achieving this requires a move from traditional mapping methods to a live map, where maps and traffic data are built in near real-time with inputs from millions of endpoint sensors.
Historical mapping models relied on survey-based mapping: changes were detected, surveyed by company employees, and validated/updated through long data pipelines that could result in 12–18 month lags in data updates. Further, surveying is limited by the number of surveyors, a model that can’t scale in a rapidly changing world with escalating expectations.
That’s just for the “static” road data. For dynamic data like traffic flows or road congestion, the more sensors reporting live flow data, the better the coverage and the more up-to-date the traffic data. Most automotive applications don’t report back movement data at all and can’t be used to create live traffic data. And those that do are so sparse that traffic models lean heavily on interpolating between infrequent probes to build a model. It’s OK for freeways but can’t cover surface streets. Dynamic data needs high probe volumes.
Mapbox built that platform, getting probe data back from over a half billion endpoints around the world, creating a bigger network of sensors measuring live conditions than the rest of the automobile industry combined. That means that we can see traffic conditions as they change as well as the evolution of the road network over time. Those changes are incorporated into our platform and served back out to navigation apps to provide the most up-to-date navigation experience.
We’re driving that volume further with new partnerships like the one we have with NNG. NNG will now incorporate our APIs and map data into their flagship navigation engine, currently live in 20 million vehicles worldwide. As one of the leading automotive navigation software developers, NNG is used in more than 30 car brands and 7 out of 10 car manufacturers around the world. We’re aligning on a GTM plan through luxury makers and will have exciting news to share this year. The volumes from that partnership, combined with other telemetry from our half billion endpoints worldwide drive a massive pipeline of location telemetry. We can then tap that data to maintain and improve the road networks and create the most accurate live traffic data on the planet.
We allow OEMs to create custom experiences that emphasize that data and brand. Auto OEMs can build strong relationships with drivers and leverage their proprietary data from their sensors in the cars, creating customer/brand connection to offer a better user experience.
The Samsung and HARMAN presentations at CES especially stood out; these teams build production software and they’ve picked Mapbox because of the superior UX and faster build times. Samsung Digital Cockpit is all powered by Mapbox. This was the best cockpit showpiece at CES and hugely impactful within the OEM buyers we are targeting. The speed of integration showed how we are winning in auto: Team Samsung added in Mapbox maps in under 4 weeks.
Time to Change
Automotive navigation is not a new market. The earliest systems date to over 25 years ago. Yet, 2019 may be the most dynamic year this market has ever seen. It’s necessary if Automotive OEMs want to meet customer expectations. The good news is that the technology that supports that change is available from Mapbox. We welcome the chance to have that conversation with you.