Imagine for a moment you’re planning to drive to a city you’ve never been to before. Just a few years ago, you would have gotten into the car, turned on the ignition. And then waited. Next you would have typed your destination into the navigation system – one letter at a time. And waited some more. And then you would have traveled on a fixed, unalterable route to the city you selected.
Today – in the new Audi A8 – that’s not at all how it works. Sitting on your sofa at home, you can use the myAudi app to conveniently enter your desired destination, even before it’s time to depart. Effective immediately, the destination search in our top model uses content from numerous data sources. The search runs in parallel online, on the HERE servers, to provide all the required data at blazing speed. And the destination search also takes the driver’s personal preferences into consideration.
At Audi we asked ourselves how we could improve on the search function, which is based on the precise HERE maps. And we came up with a great solution. The navigation system presents the customer with additional information regarding filling stations, parking, weather forecasts and restaurants. When the customer enters an address, he sees not only parking garages in the vicinity, but also the number of parking spaces they still have available. As for the filling stations, he is informed immediately of their current fuel prices. And he can read the Yelp ratings offered by the system to decide if it’s worth giving a restaurant in the area a try.
Our new myAudi app for smartphones uses the cloud to synchronize destinations with one or more cars. And the customer can use it to enter his destination in comfort at the breakfast table, have a look at the route and if necessary let the app guide him back to where he parked his car. From this point onwards the car automatically takes over the navigation guidance.
In the next step, we tackled the route calculation function and significantly optimized it for the new Audi A8. Four times a year the onboard database will automatically be refreshed with over-the-air updates, so the driver can always be confident he has the latest map material. Our MIB2+ modular infotainment platform makes "hybrid navigation" possible. This means the route is calculated not only onboard but also online on the HERE servers. That benefits the user in several ways. First of all, the calculation works at all times. Even when you’re in an underground parking garage and don’t have any reception. Secondly, the LTE Advanced standard ensures amazingly fast data transfer – the car receives an updated traffic report online every minute.
And third, the hybrid navigation enables dynamic adjustments during a journey. It even takes into account events hundreds of miles away if they can affect conditions on the route. What’s more, the system can integrate a range of different traffic jam models. If there’s a traffic jam somewhere on the route, but the traffic resumes flowing freely soon enough, the congestion will not be factored into the driving time. But if the traffic jam hasn’t cleared in two hours, the navigation system will react in time to plan a detour around it.
Once the driver hits the road, he is struck by the new, more clearly displayed imagery. For the first time, the system integrates remarkably detailed 3D models of many cities around the world. Until recently that applied only to individual buildings like Munich’s famous Frauenkirche cathedral. In the new Audi A8 nearly all buildings have a vivid, three-dimensional appearance. I feel this visualization feature has matured into a real eye-catcher. And many drivers will find it also improves their sense of orientation. In the development phase, I believed it was particularly important for the navigation guidance to convey a more informal, everyday feeling. And that’s why we are now using additional, traffic-related landmarks like filling stations, traffic lights and stop signs, to name a few examples.
The big touchscreen display and impressive computing power in our new flagship enable users to make route changes at the spur of the moment – with just a swipe of the finger. If there’s an obstacle in the road – say a garbage truck in the city or a herd of cows in a rural area – the driver can block the route. The navigation system then chooses a different route in the blink of an eye. We call this “intelligent blocking”. But this also works on a larger scale: Using the “rubber band” function, the driver can choose to shift the course of the entire route. All he has to do is put a finger on the displayed route and drag it into place, as if using a mouse.
Equally noteworthy is how our navigation benefits from the connected sensors in the Audi A8. The data – particularly from the front camera and the laser scanner – is also saved to the navigation system by the central driver assistance controller (zFAS). This enables the navigation system to precisely determine the traffic lane the car is installed in, and also display that. If the driver needs to change lanes on the highway, from the far left lane to the far right, the system advises him accordingly.
Once the driver has reached his destination, the myAudi app once again comes into play. When the driver gets out of the car, the app again automatically takes over the navigation function – to guide the user along the way from the parking garage to a restaurant he selected earlier, for example. The car and the app save entered destinations, so the user can easily find them again at a later date. That’s not all, though – both of them become more and more familiar with the driver over time, which allows them to automatically suggest destinations and routes. So my car knows that when I drive away from Munich Airport in the evening, what I really want is to just go straight home. I’m a commuter, so this point is very important to me – I don’t want to always have to search for my destination. I want the system to suggest appropriate ones, and then I can just choose from the list.
Together with HERE we put three years of work into developing the new technology. We’re going to expand our partnership and keep working on creating the perfect navigation system. So yes, the era in which you had to spend several minutes typing in your destination is finally being put to bed.
To see all of this in action, join HERE and Audi at 67th International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt from September 12th - 24th. You can find our booth outside at New Mobility World, Agora Parkour: FG Ost FA200 Outdoor.
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