Volkswagen Navigates Google’s Earth

    November 14, 2006

Since October 2005, Volkswagen and Google have been collaborating to develop a revolutionary new kind of navigation system that will change the way we travel.

Over the weekend, when I thought I was off the clock, I found myself grabbing a pen and paper after viewing a television advertisement for Volkswagen’s Google car navigation system. What can I say, except that when an idea is so revolutionary, I will do a little off-duty research.

Volkswagen, Google, and graphics card manufacturer nVidia have been developing the new navigation system for the past year at Volkswagen’s Electronics Research Laboratory in Palo Alto, California. The prototype was debuted in January 2006 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and is said to be closer to “virtual reality travel information” than any other product on the market.

Data from Google Earth is used in this revolutionary new system to generate a three-dimensional image of specified routes. In addition, the navigation system gathers online data to relay real-time information, such as traffic and weather, to the driver.

Using a touch-screen interface linked to Google Earth the driver may utilize precise 3-D maps, real time traffic and route guidance updates, as well as the actual Google search engine. Because it is as an open system, the specifications of the system can be modified to the individual driver’s needs.

You might find yourself asking yourself what is so fantastic about this system that I would use the word “revolutionary” to describe it. The answer lies in three different features incorporated into the navigation system, which set it apart from its predecessors.

The first feature being the 3-dimensional, photorealistic display of the area surrounding a destination. This feature makes it easier for the driver to identify and passengers to identify that they are on the correct route, as opposed to simply wondering if they are headed in the right direction.

Secondly, real-time data is fed to the system via a link to the Internet that enables the driver with knowledge of current traffic and weather conditions. Even the closing times of gas stations and restaurants on their route can be accessed.

Lastly, the Google search engine link allows the driver and passenger to access information regarding business and attractions en route to the specified destination. Current movie ticket and merchandise prices are even included in real-time updates.

There is no word yet as to when the prototype will be released, or if Google will only install the navigation system into other company’s cars. One thing is for certain though, if utilized correctly this navigation system has the potential to revolutionize travel.

Add to | Digg | Reddit | Furl

Autmn Davis is a staff writer for WebProNews covering ebusiness and technology.