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NavInfo He Ling: Incremental Update is the Revolution for Map Production System
2013/12/26

On the way of navigation digital map technology research, after the completion of NDS map production and ADAS high-accuracy map production, NavInfo launched map incremental update during Auto Shanghai 2013. Incremental update can solve one problem which disturbs many car owners——how can vehicle navigation map realize update constantly in time and conveniently and meantime guarantee the current map data is the latest thereby avoid the old information of planned navigation route.

This brand new navigation map update method is realized by the basement of advanced cartography and management technology and further fusion of vehicle communication technology. It can supply less data volume, faster transmission speed and more effective map data. The car with this service can check current map data by its vehicle navigation system automatic after the engine start. The system will update the changed data if the highway data and regular road data within 20 kilometers are not the latest. This service can update the data in one month for the new highway at present.

Now, NavInfo incremental update service has already applied for LEXUS Telematics system G-BOOK. This service will apply for other Telematics system in the future.
3sNews has an interview with vice president of NavInfo, general manager of Telemap (joint venture of NavInof and Toyota Group), He Ling recently.

3sNews: What reason makes NavInfo do the research of incremental update technology? What kind of value can bring to NavInfo by this technology?

He Ling: At present, our country is in the stage of rapid economic development, infrastructure construction is also change rapidly. According to statistics, highway total mileage has reached to more than 80000 kilometers in our country; the new building highway is growing by the speed of 13000 kilometers. Counter-view the developed countries like North America and Europe, their infrastructure construction have already been in a stable period. Their road change rate is not exceeding 10% every year. But the road change rate in our country is between 20%- 30%. This quick change means users in Europe and America buy a navigator which has no update in two years and never has huge mistakes. But in China, users will find map data become old very quickly. If they don’t update the data for two years, there will be very high error probability. Therefore, how to update map data for vehicle navigation system quickly becomes the key problem in this industry. Under this background, NavInfo launched the incremental update technology.

The ultimate goal of map is very simple. One is accuracy, the other is fast. Accuracy refers to the data can be completely the same as the actual road situation. Fast means if the road will open today, then the relevant map data will be produced today. Therefore, besides improve users’ experiences, NavInfo incremental update technology will be a greatly improvement and promotion for map production technology and management procedure itself. This will become the valuable core competitiveness for NavInfo.

3sNews: Do other countries have the application of incremental update technology? What kind of development of this technology is in China in the future?

He Ling: The highest application popularity rate country of navigation digital map is Japan. Because of the specialgeographical situation in Europe and America, their need is not so obvious.

America is scarcely populated except the city central area. The road is very sparse and changes very little. There are no problems without the navigator. In Europe, there is few large cities, also all the Europe city road structure inside and outside are relatively simple. It is not necessary for European map manufacturers to do the incremental update technology by investing massive manpower and material resources. At present, this technology is basically gathered in Japan. Toyota Motor launched incremental update service in 2007 first. The number of this service user is probably 150000 to 200000 around.

Incremental update technology involves many aspects, including digital map production technology, digital map data compilation and processing technology, and front navigator processing technology. Take the combination of these three aspects technology together, our technology can still plays catcher and in the leading position in the world.

For the development of incremental update technology in China in the future, in my opinion, the development of car networking did very rapidly, but the incremental update can use wireless technology change the huge data into very small whereas provide to the users quickly. In this sense, it is a very valuable services for future vehicle terminal even other mobile terminal.

3sNews: Some of the vehicle navigators can realize update timely by SD card which keeps map data in it. Some also called it “incremental update”. Well, do they have any difference between it and NavInfo incremental update?

He Ling: Incremental update, for popular understanding, is the update for changed road information. More strictly speaking, it can not be modified if there is no data changed.

Currently, there are two ways to realize map data update by SD card, one is total update which means update for all the data; the other is part update or regional update which means update according to users’ needs. For example, the user mainly drives in Zhe Jiang province, and then the update of Zhe Jiang province data is enough for him. But this kind of update is also the total update, because the updated data still includes the unchanged data. NavInfo has already realized the update for changed place data. This is the biggest difference.
The technology difficulty and complexity level is very large between these differences. The scale of navigation digital map data is very large, even difficult for so large scale data processing in IT industry. NavInfo national data base takes “T” as the unit for calculation, and then compiling into different form data according to different navigator. In such cases, national data volume is generally 10G around. Huge data production process is very complicated, so it is very difficult to take changed part and guarantee the updated data’s good fusion with old data during a complicated process. But it is relevant simple for the regional update which just use traditional production technology and method to reduce the update scale.Therefore, although both are incremental update, the technology difference is not the same.

3sNews: How can incremental update technology add new road information into vehicle system timely and accurately?

He Ling: The realization of incremental update has two meanings. First is reducing data transmission quantity after the recognition of changed data. Second is improve data current level which is mentioned above the goal of map——accuracy and fast. Based on these two points, incremental update is very influential for the whole map production demands and changes. The first thing for NavInfo is to master and catch national road change information capability. We build the information collection department on the consideration of productivity increase initially, and then gathering national road change information by internet such measures. Because our information infrastructure can not supply complete and in time information like foreign government public service institutions. This requires company has to gather the information from the national huge information. We have realized the cover for national high way and important cities main roads changes.

Next, it is not enough to know where changes; it also needs field staffs’ help. A large field acquisition team will be a huge cost for a company. So this requires production planning and management can guarantee the reasonable allocation between regular road update and fast incremental update. NavInfo has over a hundred field acquisition car and nearly 700 people field acquisition team. So well, how to organize car and people reasonable to finish changed data acquisition by top efficiency and then back to regular work according to regular update plan. This is a very difficult production plan and management system. NavInfo will produce a system used for management. The upgrades of tools make a great improvement of production management ability.

Third, after the acquisition of field data, we need industry input. Map data has the topological relation in the data base. The logic between every line and every point has to be described very accurate. Our past map updates by the version, fastest three months one version. But incremental update requires one month one version. And we have to make sure the topological relation between issued data and customer data can be guaranteed. The technical difficulties is very big because all the connection between new road and old road network including data attributes association have to be realized in the industry input. Or it can not be navigation when the data appears at the vehicle terminal making the road network jam. Thus, we have already considered the incremental update needs when introducing latest second generation map work platform last year. This platform is researched on the premise of quick issue.

Furthermore, incremental update offered very high demand for the compilation of map data for and the topological connection with last version. The issue of a map data version is divided into stages and plates. For example, one version will be issued in March, well, this version is incomplete before and the topological relation between data is not perfect, but the quick issue of incremental update has to guarantee the updated data can match with the unpublished data. This is post compilation and incremental update extraction which offers high requirement for differential technology.

Incremental update technology is a revolution for the whole production system from map production viewpoint. It is not only the changes for information collection, field acquisition, and platform support and map compilation, but also offers new requirement for post drawings approval. We got great support from SBSM during the technology development process. We opened incremental update quick drawings approval channel whereas greatly cut the drawings approval cycle.
3sNews: When launched incremental update during Auto Shanghai 2013, NavInfo promised to make it free for all the users in two years. Well, how does NavInfo consider the future profit model?
He Ling: NavInfo did provide users for free incremental update for two years. After the free period, users need to pay for the update of the basic version and no need to pay for incremental update service. Because of the computing power of current navigator can not support a lot of external data better, as the changed incremental data accumulated, computing power of current navigator will be slow, this needs user buy new navigation digital map to update basic version two years later. After the update, user can enjoy two years’ free incremental update service. Besides, users need to pay for the wireless communication fee during the map update.
The first cooperation manufacture is Toyota Motor on the cooperation of incremental update service. Because of different manufactures have different model; we are doing the research of incremental update system which matches to their car types.

3sNews: Which technology relevant with map and navigation will be researched for NavInfo in the future?

He Ling: Seeing from the current navigation digital map development and application trend, first of all is how to make the data more accurate, that is to say, general map data requires the precision within 5 meters and the high accuracy map data requires the precision within 1 meter. As the map accuracy improving, it will be widely used at the aspect of car safe, even connect with car driving control. For example, when there is a sharp turn in front but you can’t find the danger because of sight block, if you have the high accuracy map, the navigator will help the driver reduce the speed, control the gearbox to guarantee the car pass the sharp turn with safe. There are a lot of similar applications to guarantee the safe implementation with the support of high accuracy map data.
Second, we are more concerned about the need of final users. Actually it is the focus for indoor navigation technology and how to provide accurate guidance indoor. Third, the 3D high accuracy map is the development trend for the future.

The position of NavInfo is an integrated geographic information service supplier. Different industry and different user will have different demand for map data. For example, the demand for passenger car and commercial vehicle is totally different. The truck driver pays more attention to bridge bearing, limit high height and more detailed road information. We need to guide a right way for him. This right is not about the unobstructed road but the restriction information whether influence the smooth pass or not. So we need to further rich map data base content and develop kinds of integrated information service. This might be the main direction for NavInfo in the aspect of navigation digital map technology in the future. This also will further support the development of NavInfo in car networking business.

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