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概要:  导读:对于许多人来说,TomTom是贴在汽车挡风玻璃上的卫星导航设备的代名词。但在幕后,这家荷兰地图公司一直在建立一个名副其实的导航数据和高清晰度(HD)地图,以便为未来的联网自动驾驶汽车提供动力。 How TomTom is ev...



How TomTom is evolving for autonomous vehicles



To many, TomTom is a brand synonymous with satellite navigation (“Sat Nav”) devices plastered to car windshields. But behind the scenes, the Dutch mapping company has been building a veritable arsenal of navigation data and high definition (HD) maps as it gears up for the battle to power the connected, autonomous cars of tomorrow.


TomTom may not have the consumer mindshare of Google Maps, but it underpins many services you likely use daily, including Uber and Apple Maps. Microsoft also uses TomTom for services such as Azure, Bing Maps, and Cortana.

TomTom可能还没有像谷歌地图那样占领消费者的心智,但它支持你可能每天使用的许多服务,包括优步和苹果地图。 Microsoft还将TomTom用于Azure(微软的公用云服务平台),Bing Maps(微软公司推出的Bing服务中在线地图服务)和Cortana(微软开发的智能个人助理)等服务。

TomTom has been striking an impressive roster of partnerships of late as it looks to power myriad connected cars and mobility services. Last month, TomTom teamed up with Microsoft and public transport data platform Moovit to pool their resources and create the ultimate multi-modal transport platform for developers — one that leverages TomTom’s real-time driving and parking data. And in the past week alone, TomTom has announced new or extended map and navigation deals with NissanFiat Chrysler, and Volkswagen Group’s range of brands across Europe covering Volkswagen, Audio, Porsche, Skoda, Lamborghini, and Bentley. Additionally, TomTom will also now — for the first time — be the traffic service provider for Audi vehicles in China and Japan.

TomTom最近建立了一系列令人印象深刻的合作伙伴关系,因为它希望为无数的联网汽车和移动服务提供动力支持。上个月,TomTom与微软和公共交通数据平台Moovit合作,汇集资源,利用TomTom的实时驾驶和停车数据,为开发人员创建终极多模式传输平台 。仅在过去一周,TomTom宣布与日产,菲亚特克莱斯勒和大众集团在欧洲的品牌系列,在全新的或扩展的地图和导航业务上达成了交易,涵盖大众,音响,保时捷,斯柯达,兰博基尼和宾利。此外,TomTom现在还将首次成为中国和日本奥迪汽车的交通服务提供商。

But perhaps most interestingly, TomTom revealed that it has been selected by “multiple top 10” automakers to supply HD maps, which provide a more accurate representation of the terrain including lane models and geometry and traffic signs, with centimeter accuracy. These maps are a crucial component of autonomous vehicles, given that cars need accurate situational awareness to self-navigate busy thoroughfares. Even the most accurate GPS system on the roads today could have an error margin of several meters, which to a self-driving car is the difference between driving in a lane or careering down the sidewalk.


TomTom’s HD maps claim extensive coverage across the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and Europe — all key hubs for self-driving car testing and development. Though TomTom didn’t reveal which automakers it had signed up for its HD maps, this move will help it build on top of its existing partnerships in Level 1 and Level 2-enabled automated cars.

TomTom的高清地图声称广泛覆盖美国,日本,韩国和欧洲 - 所有这些地方都是自动驾驶汽车测试和开发的关键枢纽。虽然TomTom没有透露哪些汽车制造商已经注册了它的高清地图,但这一举措将有助于它建立在现有的1级和2级自动驾驶汽车市场建立合作伙伴关系。

Elsewhere last week, TomTom and Elektrobit, a supplier of embedded and connected software products for the automotive industry, released what they call a HD “map horizon” for autonomous driving. An HD map horizon enables vehicles to reconstruct a detailed, virtual picture of the road ahead, in real time. For example, it may let the car’s driver-assist system know that there is a sharp bend in the road coming up, or a more unexpected obstacle such as debris up ahead.


Above: HD map horizon in TomTom;以上:TomTom高清地图上的路况视野

In sum, TomTom may not be a brand you think about day-to-day, but it’s a quiet giant of the technology and automotive spheres, one that car firms may become increasingly reliant upon if they want to avoid ceding more control and data to Google as it seeks further inroads to automobiles.


With that in mind, VentureBeat caught up with TomTom’s head of navigation, Heiko Schilling, to get his take on where things are at for TomTom, how it sets itself apart, and where its priorities lie at a critical turning point for the car industry.

考虑到这一点,VentureBeat采访了TomTom的导航主管Heiko Schilling,以了解他对TomTom的规划,它如何与众不同,以及它在汽车行业的关键转折点上的优势是什么。


Bump in the road



Schilling joined TomTom at an interesting juncture in its history. The year was 2007, and the company’s shares hit an all-time high in November. But within two years, the effect of iPhone, Android, and (more importantly) Google Maps had taken their toll, with TomTom’s shares plummeting 95 percent. They never have quite recovered.


Above: TomTom Shares slide;以上:TomTom分享的数据

“That was exciting — in a good way, in hindsight,” Schilling told VentureBeat, with a somewhat wry smile on his face. “When I came in, we shipped Sat Navs like hell, something like 35,000 on a daily basis — the basement was completely packed, and we were hiring — that was my first two years. And then the financial crisis kicked in, the iPhone came, and Google Maps came out.”

这很令人兴奋 - 事后看来,这很好,” Schilling告诉VentureBeat,脸上露出一丝苦笑。当我进来的时候,我们出产了大量的Sat NavsTomTom导航仪),每天35,000 - 地下室完全挤满了,我们正在招聘 - 这是我的头两年。随后出现了金融危机,iPhone问世,谷歌地图问世。

Though the iPhone and Google Maps was a contributing factor to its downfall, TomTom was actually a launch partner for the iPhone 3GS in 2009, with cofounder and then CTO Peter-Frans Pauwels taking to the stage alongside Steve Jobs to showcase the first turn-by-turn navigation app for the iPhone. Its thinking may have been right — “well, we may as well embrace this new technology, it’s not going away“– but the rise of smartphones put a major dent in TomTom’s Sat Nav hardware business. Why would someone buy a $300 dedicated GPS screen for their car when they can just mount their phone to their windshield?

尽管iPhone和谷歌地图是导致其垮台的一个因素,但TomTom实际上是2009iPhone 3GS推出时的合作伙伴,联合创始人和当时的首席技术官Peter-Frans Pauwels与史蒂夫乔布斯一起登台,向公众展示了为iPhone打造的首个语音对话导航App。当时的想法可能是正确的 - “好吧,我们不妨接受这项新技术,它不会消失” - 但智能手机的兴起对TomTom的卫星导航硬件业务产生了重大影响,人们为什么还要去为他们的汽车购买价值300美元的专用GPS屏幕,当他们可以将手机安装到挡风玻璃上的时候?

And so Schilling’s first couple of years at the company were, to put it mildly, turbulent.

“There was restructurings, reorganizations, repurposing the whole company,” Schilling said. “Being part of that was actually — in hindsight — quite cool. But if you’re in the middle of it, and you don’t know where it’s going, obviously it’s a bit frightening.”


Schilling说:当时我们重新调整公司架构,重新调整人员组织,重新利用整个公司。” “事实上,当仅仅只是调整其中的一部分的时候 - 事后看来 - 非常酷。但如果当你处于整个结构变动的中间位置,并且你还不知道它会去向哪里,那显然让人觉得有点害怕。

Potholed history


Above: TomTom: Sat Nav;以上:TomTom台式导航仪

TomTom has evolved greatly since its inception in 1991. It began as a B2B software developer for reading meters and barcodes, supporting a number of the popular handhelds of the day, including the Palm Pilot and Psion Series 5. By the turn of the century, TomTom had aligned its business with car navigation systems, first by transforming “pocket PCs” into in-car navigation systems, then by selling dedicated GPS navigation units.

TomTom1991年成立以来发展迅速。它最初是一款B2B软件开发平台,业务方向是阅读仪表和条形码,支持当时的一些流行手持设备,包括Palm PilotPsion Series 5.到世纪之交, TomTom将其业务与汽车导航系统结合起来,首先将掌上电脑转变为车载导航系统,然后销售专用GPS导航系统。

In the intervening years, TomTom branched out into all manner of verticals, including telematics to help businesses manage their vehicle fleets, as well as consumer wearables. But around 18 months ago, TomTom began a major restructuring of its business to refocus its efforts on its core strengths. In September 2017, TomTom announced it was cutting 136 jobs as it moved away from the highly competitive wearables market. Then earlier this year, TomTom revealed it was offloading its telematics unit for $1 billion to Bridgestone, so it could invest more resources into maps and navigation.

在此期间,TomTom扩展到各种垂直行业,包括远程信息处理,以帮助企业管理他们的车队,以及消费者可穿戴设备。但大约18个月前,TomTom开始对其业务进行重大重组,以重新调整其核心优势。 20179月,TomTom宣布削减136个工作岗位,因为它要远离竞争激烈的可穿戴设备市场。今年早些时候,TomTom透露它正以10亿美元的价格将其远程信息处理部门卖给Bridgestone普利司通(日本最大的轮胎制造商),借此可以在地图和导航方面投入更多资源。

At the time, TomTom said that selling its telematics unit would enable it to become a more “focused and agile company, shaping the future of driving with highly accurate maps, navigation software, and real-time traffic information and services.” TomTom didn’t mention Google Maps by name, but that is likely one of the contributing factors for the sale. A few months before, Google had inked an extensive deal with major carmakers such as Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi to integrate Android services — including Google Maps — into their automobiles.


Moreover, TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn said that ditching its telematics unit would allow it to focus its efforts on self-driving cars.

此外,TomTom首席执行官Harold Goddijn表示,放弃其远程信息处理部门将使其能够专注于自动驾驶汽车。

“After a thorough review of strategic options, we have determined that the sale of telematics to Bridgestone is in the best interest of both telematics and our core location technology business,” said Goddijn. “We will continue to invest in our innovative map-making system, enabling faster map updates while lowering operational costs, paving the road toward autonomous driving.”


Schilling added that the sale has given it more direct financial clout now to invest in its core maps business — money that would’ve taken far longer to accrue through recurring revenue.


“Selling it [telematics business] for $1 billion means that we’re capturing 10 years of future revenue on the telematics business now, which we can also use to invest in some of the technologies around maps.”


Autonomous future



Over the past decade, Google has emerged victorious in what could be construed as the first mapping war, focused largely on the consumer market. The tech giant has dispatched platoons of cars globally, capturing new road layouts and street imagery for use across its arsenal of products. But with the oncoming autonomous car revolution, other mapmakers have a renewed sense of purpose.


Early in the development of autonomous vehicles, debates raged about whether maps would be needed for self-driving cars at all — some argued that the cars could run completely using on-board sensors. But it soon became apparent that maps would be a pivotal piece of the autonomous car puzzle — it gives the car a level of situational awareness that sensors alone cannot safely achieve.

在自动驾驶汽车的发展初期,关于自动驾驶汽车是否需要地图的争论很激烈 - 一些人认为汽车可以完全使用车载传感器。但很快就会发现,地图将成为自动驾驶汽车拼图的关键部分 - 它为汽车提供了一定程度的态势感知,而传感器无法安全地实现。

“The arguments [for maps] are actually quite straightforward,” Schilling said. “Sensors can’t look around corners. You need to know what’s coming up, and sensors can’t see through that big lorry driving next to you. There’s a wide range of reasons why sensors have limitations. And that is where the map comes in. It gives you comfort and safety inside an autonomous vehicle.”

“[地图]的争论实际上非常简单,” Schilling说。传感器不能四处看看。你需要知道即将发生的事情,而传感器无法看穿你旁边那辆大货车。传感器存在局限性的原因很多。这就是地图的用武之地。它为您提供了自动驾驶车内的舒适性和安全性。

While advanced driver-assistance systems are now commonplace in cars, the automobile industry is entering an exciting phase that takes things to the next level. Back in December, Google’s sister company Waymo unveiled its first commercial driverless taxi service, dubbed Waymo One. The announcement was a milestone moment for Waymo, which is among the leaders of the autonomous driving push: Waymo One was its first commercial service that riders can actually pay for, albeit only as part of an early-access program. But it’s a sign of how quickly the self-driving movement is accelerating.

虽然先进的驾驶辅助系统现在在汽车中很常见,但汽车行业正在进入令人兴奋的阶段,这个阶段将整个产业提升到一个新的水平。早在去年12月,谷歌的姊妹公司Waymo推出了首款商用无人驾驶出租车服务,名为Waymo One。对于Waymo而言,这一宣布是一个里程碑式的时刻,Waymo是自动驾驶推动的领导者之一:Waymo One是第一个开车的人实际可以支付的商业服务,尽管这只是作为早期产品接入计划的一部分。但这表明自驾车运动加速的速度有多快。

Elsewhere, the technology and automotive industries are converging to ensure they’re not left behind in the gold rush. Daimler and BMW recently entered a long-term partnership for self-driving cars. The coming together of rivals was notable on a number of levels, but working together was nothing new for these giants of the German automotive world — back in 2016, the duo formed part of a consortium to acquire Nokia’s Here mapping unit for $3 billion. This deal ensured that they have sufficient control over their own location technologies, while it also kept Google at arm’s length. And as with TomTom, Here is very much betting on an autonomous future where sensor data is captured and harnessed, and HD maps that update in real time are essential.

在其他地方,技术和汽车行业正在融合,以确保他们不会落后于淘金热。戴姆勒和宝马最近建立了自动驾驶汽车的长期合作伙伴关系。竞争对手的聚集在许多层面上都是值得注意的,但对于这些德国汽车世界的巨头来说,合作并不是什么新鲜事 - 早在2016年,这对二人组成了以30亿美元收购诺基亚Here地图部门的财团的一部分。这笔交易确保了他们对自己的地图定位技术有足够的控制权,同时也让谷歌保持一定的距离。和TomTom一样,Here这款地图产品也在自动驾驶领域——捕获和利用传感器数据,以及实时更新的高清地图的重要性上下了大的赌注。

Today, TomTom says that it has 800 million people globally using its technology in some form, be that physical hardware or an application with TomTom embedded. Through this, TomTom garners more than 20 billion location data points each day, which feeds back into its products to ensure its maps and associated information are up-to-date. It also now has half-a-million kilometers of HD maps, which it is looking to build on and continue its legacy with next-gen self-driving cars.



MARCH 17, 2019 12:12 PM

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