Q&A: Jan-Maarten de Vries

The vice-president if TomTom Automotive says in the long-term future all cars will be automated and will have an embedded map because it is necessary in providing the full functionality

How is TomTom helping OEMs bring greater connectivity to vehicles?

Connectivity and navigation are happening right now so the trend for OEMs is to embed navigation in their dashboard systems more and more. Despite the arrival of smartphones, still there is growth in the embedded systems. More expensive cars will offer embedded systems and the cheaper cars will have a smartphone-attached solution, but navigation will be a part of all because it is a ubiquitous need. Our strength is in the flexibility and modularity of the offering, as well as the incremental mapping updates that we can do.

The company is also involved in increasing vehicle autonomy. How important is that to the business?

We are obviously not there yet with autonomous vehicles – this is the R&D time. For mass introduction you need the laws to change. Governments are already allowing test driving in certain regions. The UK is not part of the Vienna convention so is already allowed, Germany has made sure that it is possible, and others are doing that.

The industry will move towards self-driving in steps but in the long-term future all cars will be automated and will have an embedded map because it is a necessary element in providing the full functionality.

In the meantime we are helping the industry to get there and we are continuing our connected navigation because infotainment systems are still coming.

Is there an issue regarding complexity of software developments? What is your approach? Minimise it or just accept it’s going to be complex and cope with it?

We believe in first developing a software platform, which takes a lot of time and a massive amount of effort, but once you have it you can build innovation on top of it very quickly. We pay a lot of attention to the architecture, so we create one base of software code and then use that to continuously build features on top of that. Every two months we release new software that grows the feature base but keeps the quality of the entire code base stable.

tags: March 2016 TomTom Connectivity