TomTom partners for autonomous development as Uber seeks investment

14 March 2019

14 March 2019

In an example of how vehicle technology companies are broadening their horizons to stay competitive in today’s technologically advanced market, TomTom has announced a new partnership as it delves into the world of autonomous vehicles.

The company will collaborate with Elektrobit to demonstrate an Electronic Horizon system for driver assistance functions and driverless cars, combining its AutoStream service and Elektrobit’s EB robinos Predictor.

AutoStream is a ′Cloud to Car’ map delivery system which streams the latest map data from the TomTom Cloud to the vehicle. EB robinos Predictor is an in-vehicle solution that uses this map data to provide accurate and up-to-date information about the road ahead for predictive driver assistance functions. This allows carmakers to improve safety and comfort in automated driving.

The joint project will combine the two programs to establish an easy-to-use demonstrator, evaluation and development platform for the automotive market.

Willem Strijbosch, TomTom’s Head of Autonomous Driving, said: ′Our collaboration with Elektrobit allows us to power automated driving functions with the latest high definition map while reducing complexity and time to market for our customers.’

Martin Schleicher, Executive Vice President, Head of Business Management, Elektrobit, comments: ′When it comes to automated driving, reliability is paramount. We are delighted to work alongside our long-time partner, TomTom, in delivering a state-of-the-art solution that will enable carmakers to equip their vehicles with more precise automated driving systems by leveraging highly precise maps.’

In July 2017, TomTom announced it was working with Cisco to develop ultra-fast per-lane mapping of traffic levels to support applications in autonomous vehicle driving and mobility management, helping to improve efficiency and safety. The company is also working with Bosch to develop high-resolution maps that will benefit autonomous systems.

Meanwhile, Uber is rumoured to be considering a spin-off of its driverless development unit, with a consortium including finance company SoftBank reported to be interested. A Wall Street Journal report values the unit at between $5 billion and $10 billion (€4.4 billion and €8.8 billion).

The group of investors, including SoftBank‘s Vision Fund and Toyota, would buy a $1 billion (€885 million) stake in the new company, which would allow the business to put a significant valuation on the whole company ahead of an IPO. Uber would be able to retain operational control of the autonomous business while sharing the cost of developing and commercialising autonomous technology with partners.

Uber and SoftBank declined to comment. Toyota said in a statement: ′Toyota constantly reviews and considers various options for investment. We do not have anything to announce about further investment in Uber at this time.’