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Harman crowdsources road conditions and parking availability through navigation systems

At CES 2016, Harman announced Advanced Navigation, a navigation platform that gathers data from cars, such as parking availability and road conditions, then shares it in the cloud.

Advanced Navigation map
With the Live Content feature of Harman's Advanced Navigation, cars crowdsource their sensor data.

This story is part of CES 2016. Our editors bring you complete CES 2016 coverage and scour the showroom floor for the hottest new tech gadgets around.

Cars, especially those with advanced sensor and camera systems, know a lot about the roads they run. Harman's new Advanced Navigation platform, unveiled at CES 2016, uploads that data to the cloud, so it can benefit other drivers.

The Advanced Navigation system's Live Content layer learns about traffic signs and parking availability from car cameras, and road conditions from traction control systems. When shared in Harman's cloud, your car could let you know of open parking spaces and temporary speed limit changes. It could even automatically adjust its traction control systems in anticipation of slippery conditions on the road ahead.

The idea is similar to that of the Waze navigation app, where drivers share incident and traffic information, but Advanced Navigation shares its data automatically.

Harman, which supplies navigation systems and electronics to automakers around the world, has already deployed the first phase of this platform in Europe, partnering with an automaker to gather anonymized data from its cars over the last five months. From camera data uploaded from cars, Harman can tell where there might be empty parking spaces in a garage. Likewise, when multiple cars activate their traction control systems over a single stretch of road, Harman can extrapolate icy conditions.

In the next phase of this project, Harman and its undisclosed German automaker partner will implement a means of feeding this information, when relevant, back to drivers. For example, if you looked for parking on your navigation system, the car could highlight garages it knows have availability.

And there is a wealth of other information cars can share to make driving safer and more convenient. Harman could note the status of the windshield wipers, learning about localized drizzle or rainstorms, the alert other drivers they are about to drive into a wet area.

Here, the mapping service recently acquired by a consortium of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, has proposed similar crowdsourced road conditions. However, it looks like Harman is already far along in the development of its Advanced Navigation product.

Although being developed in Europe, Harman's automotive customers could offer the service in the US. However, individual automakers will package and present the shared data in a manner befitting their brands, with Harman remaining in the background.