Get an onboard navigation experience with an off-board solution

February 10, 2015 OpenSystems Media

The past couple of months saw both Apple and Google make a big play for the automotive industry with the launches of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, solutions that use cloud-based map data and mobile map applications. These off-board navigation solutions present an opportunity for embedded global navigation satellite system (GNSS) and dead reckoning (DR) as a standard feature for all future display audio infotainment systems, regardless of whether the infotainment system hosts an onboard navigation system.

Adoption of onboard navigation in-vehicle is increasing steadily but not as fast as one would expect. This is because the cost of onboard navigation systems is relatively high and not part of the vehicle’s standard equipment, even at the high end.

While the in-vehicle navigation (IVN) option is a profitable add-on for the OEM, there are substantial cost implications for hosting onboard navigation. These include the turn-by-turn navigation application, storage for a continental map, additional processing power to provide a fluid UI and automotive speech recognition (ASR), and finally, the onboard continental map database typically provided by HERE (formerly NavTeq) or TomTom/TeleAtlas. For the average consumer, the emergence of slick navigation applications on personal navigation devices (PNDs) and smartphones such as those from Garmin, Magellan, TomTom, Google Maps, and Apple Maps makes the decision to pay the premium for onboard navigation hard to justify.

The increased use of smartphones in the car and while people are out and about is a great opportunity for smartphone providers and carriers to further their reach into peoples’ lives by providing them location-based services, including routing and navigation. The downside of this is driver distraction and its associated risks, which are getting increased attention from governments and regulators. In response to this, companies like Google, Apple, and Abalta have introduced solutions which take advantage of the smartphone content, hardware, and cloud connection to provide a safe curated interface which can be displayed on, and controlled from, the center console display.

While the smartphone does a great job of providing the connectivity to the cloud and has plenty of processing power to drive the display, it does a sub-par job of providing accurate positioning in the car, particularly in tunnels, parking garages, and dense cities. To provide an onboard navigation experience using an off-board navigation solution, the overall solution benefits from having onboard GNSS and DR positioning provided to the off-board navigation solution.

Both Apple Carplay and Android Auto Signal provide an API/message to enable the vehicle’s infotainment system to share its positioning solution. They understand that for their navigation applications to offer the same robust and reliable navigation experience as the onboard navigation solutions currently offered by OEMs, they need to utilize onboard GNSS and DR positioning themselves.

Onboard GNSS and DR have the following advantages over smartphone GNSS:

  • Bigger and better antennas are often placed on the car’s roof, providing superior GNSS signal reception and positioning compared to the compromised GNSS antenna integrated into a smartphone, which in turn may be placed under the instrument panel of a car
  • Better isolation from RF interference from the various radios crammed into the handset, such as multi-band cellular, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi
  • Access to car sensor information, which can be fused with the GNSS positioning solution
  • A dedicated GNSS receiver processor focused solely on the positioning task

The emergence of cost-effective mainstream display audio infotainment that safely supports smartphone applications through the embedded UI needs to host embedded GNSS and DR to ensure a navigation experience similar to what’s provided by an onboard navigation system.

As the cost of onboard GNSS and DR is much lower than the total cost of full onboard navigation, it makes sense to embed GNSS and DR as a feature in every automotive infotainment system. This will ensure accurate, safe, and reliable directions regardless of whether the navigation application runs in the smartphone or in the embedded infotainment system.

Apple Carplay and Android Auto may still be in their infancy, but a significant increase in penetration is expected in future infotainment systems. Leveraging onboard GNSS and DR based positioning will enhance the user experience of the critical smartphone navigation apps which will lead to increased overall customer satisfaction and use of off-board applications and services.

Lars Boeryd is the Director of Automotive Marketing for CSR. He’s held engineering and marketing management positions for semiconductor solutions targeted at medical, aerospace, industrial, wireless and automotive applications. Over the last 10 years Lars has spearheaded and built a strategic initiative to expand CSR’s position in the automotive market segment. He is also credited with being a co-inventor for several GPS/GNSS patents primarily focused on automotive applications.

Lars Boeryd, CSR
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