Navteq module enables terrain-aware cars

Navteq and M/A-COM Technology Solutions partner to create the Map and Positioning Engine module (MPE), a device designed to communicate terrain information and positioning data to a car's drive systems.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham

If your car knew the speed limit, it could help you avoid getting speeding tickets. If it knew of a hill up ahead, it could gear down ahead of time. New technology from Navteq and M/A-COM Technology enables just this kind of behavior.

The companies partnered to come up with the Map and Positioning Engine module (MPE), a device designed to communicate location information to a car's drive systems. This module makes it easy for automakers to include location-aware behavior in their cars.

The MPE uses Navteq's mapping data, which includes elevation changes, along with protocols to communicate with a car's drive computer. What automakers do with that data is entirely up to them, but it opens up a number of possibilities.

Along with the situations mentioned above, a terrain-aware car would know the radius of upcoming turns, and be able to sound a warning or even hit the brakes if you were approaching too fast.

Cars with factory-installed navigation systems already have this capability, but few automakers take advantage of it. The MPE makes it possible, and economically feasible we assume, to give cars without in-dash navigation systems this capability.