Navigation SDK for Automotive: BMW as Launch Partner

Alex Barth
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Dec 14, 2020

Navigation SDK for Automotive: BMW as Launch Partner

Alex Barth

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Dec 14, 2020

We just announced BMW shipping in-car navigation with the Mapbox Navigation SDK. It's more than rewarding to work with one of the best teams in the world on automotive features for the Navigation SDK and bring them to the entire industry. We’re pioneering a new model of software development in auto nav: a single SDK, highly customizable, with periodic feature releases driven by all of Mapbox's OEM customers. This is designed to enable the fast development cycles needed to create excellent and unique user experiences honed by building, measuring and iterating.


BMW is designing and developing their navigation application in house, using the Mapbox Navigation SDK for Android and designing their map styles using Mapbox Studio, which provides the customization required to deliver a uniquely BMW experience. Mapbox provides the software for navigation and the cloud services to stream live maps in vehicles.

“The flexible building blocks, customizability, and cloud-first architecture convinced us that Mapbox is the best partner to power our next generation in-car navigation and have our in house team develop the navigation application with a unique user experience on top of the SDK,” Stephan Durach, BMW Group SVP Connected Company Development, Technical Operations.

Mapbox and BMW have struck a technology partnership where many of the advanced features are developed with close input from the BMW team. This is all part of the relaunch of the Mapbox Navigation SDK specifically designed for Automotive; including a location engine rewritten from ground up with dead reckoning, electronic horizon, intelligent offline capabilities, electric vehicle routing, all while building on Mapbox’s scaled capabilities of streaming map updates with daily refreshes, real time traffic based routing, and a map design using Mapbox Studio. 

Dynamic Data Updates and Correction Layer

Mapbox updates the map in the cloud, distributed across data centers around the globe. This allows the company to regenerate the global map with 2.3 billion road segments on a daily basis, conflating dozens of vendor sources and applying dynamic updates from sensor readings as corrections on top. Mapbox has 700 million monthly active users, creating a feedback cycle of data. OEM’s can enable instant map 

feedback, making the experience better every time a driver provides input. The cloud platform uses an AI-powered data pipeline to process +300 million miles of aggregated, anonymized and privacy-filtered driving data live road telemetry data daily — allowing Mapbox to continuously update data on the map everywhere in the world.

Map streaming, intelligent caching and hybrid mode

Updated data is streamed to vehicles as ultra-light vector map tiles, letting the vehicles to only download the data that has actually changed and is needed. This allows for a daily updated map delivered into the vehicle at low bandwidth cost. The technology can be freely configured by car makers to create solutions for partial connectivity (hybrid mode) or full offline scenarios (offline mode), so vehicles can use the locally cached maps to power the navigation experience.

Location engine and electronic horizon

Mapbox provides high position accuracy, with low latency, so that the driver’s location on the map stays in sync with the vehicle’s actual location. Mapbox’s proprietary location engine continually filters and processes GPS signals and extrapolates a driver’s current location when GPS signals are unavailable using map matching algorithms, to avoid navigation interruptions. The Navigation SDK ships in early 2021 with an added electronic horizon feature that precomputes the most probable path a vehicle will take on the road and loads road features like traffic incidents, speed limits and road hazards dynamically from the map to power ADAS features like speed limit warnings. 

Map Styling and Camera API

The BMW Group has designed their own custom map styles to match their brand and trim of each model. Mapbox Navigation provides different camera angles for the map, providing better tracking of the car on the map, and dynamic tilting and zooming controlled movement to change the driver’s viewpoint above the map or on-screen gestures such as pinching. 

Monthly SDK releases

Mapbox SDKs can be downloaded today. Uniquely in automotive, OEMs have access to a continuously updating SDK with monthly feature releases throughout the lifetime of the vehicle and performance improvements that are designed to enable an evolving, over the air update driven software development process for connected cars. Mapbox incorporates enhancements directly into its SDKs and OEMs build the differentiating features unique to their cars in their proprietary app layer on top of the SDK, cleanly separating common logic and car specific implementation.

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Maps feature data from Mapbox © Mapbox, OpenStreetMap © OpenStreetMap and their data partners, including Maxar (if applicable, © Maxar).

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