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BMW taps swarm intelligence for real-time traffic info

February 09, 2011 | Christoph Hammerschmidt | 222901365
BMW taps swarm intelligence for real-time traffic info With the next generation of the traffic information system included in its ConnectedDrive communications platform, BMW claims it significantly will improve traffic information quality fed into the on-board navigation system: The system uses data bases collected from a large number of roadside sensors as well as anonymized mobile phone and navigation system motion data.

BMWs navigation system featuring the new Real-Time Traffic Information system (RTTI) will be available the company's new models from autumn 2011 as an alternative to the continually available Traffic Message Channel (TMC). While TMC uses conventional traffic bulletins which frequently are outdated already when they are issued, RTTI will access aggregated data from many sources including induction loops embedded in city streets and other roadside sensors collected in real-time. Apart from truck fleets operated by freight forwarders and taxis with navigation systems linked to a control centre, mobile phones carried in vehicles will also deliver data that indicate traffic jams or tailbacks.

The dynamic network connections of cellular phones will transmit anonymous movement profiles which will be matched with the entire road network. The number of locations and the speed at which they are changed within the cellular network will provide information about the current status of the respective traffic situation.

Also included into the data aggregation scheme are local authority traffic computers, which will allow drivers in many towns and cities to receive information about possible delays on ring roads and connection routes between cities. These data are aggregated by a service provider and transmitted in real time via the GSM cellular network.

Coloured road markings on the navigation map displayed in the control display of BMW's iDrive control system indicate the latest traffic flow. The appropriate traffic situation is displayed in four increments – from green for free traffic flow, through yellow for slow-moving traffic and orange for stop-and-go, to red for gridlock.

The analysed road network is divided into sections of 500 metres and information is updated every three minutes. This means that very precise data is provided on the length of queues and the resulting delays. The driver is also able to notice changes on the color map display to identify whether the traffic situation has gotten worse or the tailback has already started to disperse.

In order to use RTTI, the car must be equipped with the BMW Navigation System Professional including mobile phone preparation with Bluetooth interface. An active smartphone app is not necessary, BMW says.

The company plans to launch the service at first in France, Germany, Italy and the UK.


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