Case study

Over-the-Air Map Updates for Connected Cars

We implemented a trusted map update that opened new business opportunities in the IoT market

AutomotiveCloud & DevOpsGISInternet of Things
Project highlights
  • Update in-car NDS-compliant maps over wireless networks
  • Perform incremental updates in case of poor connectivity
  • Carry out full map updates
Automotive, LBS
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Team size:
19 members
2015 – present

About the client

Our client supplies location-based services, including spatial data and end-to-end mapping solutions, for IoT connected cars and mobile devices. Their customer portfolio includes leading automotive manufacturers, technology companies, and municipalities.

The company is a long-established partner of the Navigation Data Standard (NDS) Association. Across a range of NDS-compliant products and services, our client offers compatibility and interoperability of map data, flexible software over-the-air updates, 3D mapping, extended driver assistance features, and support for various distribution and work media. Currently, tens of millions of drivers are benefiting from our client’s mapping and navigation solutions.

Over-the-Air Map Updates for Connected Cars

Business challenge

For decades, our client has been delivering maps in a proprietary format. But worldwide adoption of the Navigation Data Standard for IoT-enabled automotive navigation (with the objective of harmonizing map data exchange) has caused them to reconsider the format they use. To change formats, our client needed to redesign all map production pipelines and related software development tools – one of which is their over-the-air software update component for maps.

Prior to this project, Intellias had already partnered with this client on a number of other high-profile projects including a map compilation pipeline rebuild. Our team has now taken on the task of reworking the component that delivers cloud-based over-the-air (OTA) updates for maps and third-party content, including voice recognition and handwriting recognition functionality.

Solution delivered

The initial phase of our collaboration involved detecting and removing defects in the first version of the map update component. This component is delivered as part of a comprehensive software development kit that allows OEMs to build embedded navigation solutions for in-vehicle infotainment.

The positive outcome of this phase meant a green light for further development stages. With joint efforts with our client, we developed mechanisms that allow drivers to update navigation maps either via removable media or over the air. Map updates through removable media require a driver to download map update packages onto external storage (a USB drive or SD card). Over-the-air updates are performed automatically, with minimum or no input from the driver, through any available wireless network (Wi-Fi, cellular). Update packages come from a cloud-based map production pipeline that converts raw geodata into manageable NDS-compliant update packages.

Our team also implemented consumer Internet of Things solutions and algorithms for full and incremental over-the-air updates for maps in automotive. Full updates completely overwrite data for either all or specific regions, while incremental updates apply special patches containing only parts of the new map content. Incremental updates are an alternative to full updates in case of patchy network coverage.  

All software undergoes rigorous testing including unit, integration, security, and end-to-end tests; automated testing predominates over the manual. The majority of tests are run on the real hardware used in production and prototype in-car infotainment devices. 

We’ve achieved great results together

The successes from our partnership have translated into new market opportunities for our client. One of these opportunities has been commercializing their map update component as a standalone product on the global market for automotive navigation systems and not just using it as part of their own in-car navigation development toolset. Some of the world’s leading car manufacturers have now agreed to include our client’s over-the-air software update for maps functionality into future production models.

The map update component helped enrich the driving experience with these features: 

  • OTA map updates through wireless networks with minimal input from drivers 
  • Map updates through removable media via a car’s infotainment device 
  • Full map updates to get data on the latest POIs, street views, road infrastructure, and more 
  • Incremental map updates to work around patchy network coverage 
  • Third-party content updates to get the latest voice recognition and handwriting recognition software in sync with map updates 
  • Entitlement checks for OEMs to ensure that vehicles have the corresponding licenses and permissions to use map updates 
  • Storage management features for properly handling an infotainment device’s disk space 

The partnership resulted in increased efficiency and a 40% reduction in costs, while allowing in-house staff to focus on strategic projects. Intellias impressed with their solid talent acquisition process and quality standards. The agency’s proactive management kept projects moving forward.

Andrew, R&D Director at Global LBS company

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