German car makers can help you find parking and avoid traffic hazards by sharing real-time dataBy Rob Thubron
Phone apps that provide drivers information on traffic conditions and available parking spaces are nothing new, but they're not always accurate and can be cumbersome to use while in a vehicle. Now, the rise of smart cars could do away with these apps.
Digital mapping company Here - acquired by BMW, Daimler, and Audi for $2.7 billion in 2015 - wants to improve this system by gathering real-time information from the on-board sensors and cameras found in connected vehicles. The data will then be shared among the cars to alert drivers of potential hazards, speed limit changes, and empty on-street parking spots.
Some of the recorded data includes location, roadworks, accidents, hazard light usage, closed lanes, and weather/road conditions. In addition to the cameras and sensors, the vehicles can use other systems to identify a problem. Weather conditions, for example, can be determined from the use of windshield wipers, fog lights, or loss of tire traction. Here will also add information from other devices and infrastructure to paint a more accurate picture of traffic conditions.
Using the service won't require any action on the part of the driver - other than to enable it - and the system should be a lot safer than using a potentially distracting app. For those worried about any privacy implications, Here promises that the data will be anonymized, with no way of identifying individual motorists.
The service will be rolling out sometime during the first half of next year. It will arrive on BMW, Daimler, and Audi vehicles first, of course, but it's expected to reach other car manufacturers at a later date.