Poor GPS Map Data on Aftermarket HUD Car Nav Devices Turns Heads

, posted: 29-Jul-2013 09:59

New aftermarket GPS car nav units have been blamed for a spate of car accidents due to inaccurate map data. The wave of new aftermarket HUD (Heads Up Display) car navigation devices over the last few years were met with much enthusiasm. Being able to purchase devices like the Garmin HUD (How did they manage to get that as a brand name?) that launched in 2013 for under $200 bundled with a nav unit or $150 on its own, made it the next car enthusiasts must have device (toy).

With in car options (admittedly including in-car entertainment, climate control, car computer etc) adding an easy $2,000 to the bill for people who could afford a new car, a solution that cost that can go into virtually any car was a great starter for 10%.

Touted as being much safer than in dash systems because you don’t have to take your eyes off the road, it appears to have unwittingly revealed a much more critical situation that has caused stress and confusion and has allegedly resulted in accidents and assertions of liability being placed on the manufacturers of the nav systems.

The reason is that in many cases the map data is either out of date or inaccurate. This means that the driver is seeing both the road in front of them through the windscreen as well as a laser image representation of the road from the HUD. When these do not match and the driver is in a relaxed frame of mind (partly due to confidence in the GPS car nav data) confusion may arise. For example driving late at night or on a foggy morning on a country road with poor visibility and the nav displays a sharp turn (but the road has been realigned) could result in a nasty accident. Urban roads (such as Wellington in New Zealand) where one-way streets were changed to run in the opposite direction are another classic example.

Psychologist John Doe from Lost Highway University said “When drivers used traditional in-dash car nav devices, they relied mostly on auditory instructions, glancing at the nav unit from time to time to confirm the details, but then interpreted the information and commands based on what they were seeing. This meant that if there was a discrepancy in the directions, common sense usually prevailed and they would act on what they actually saw through the windscreen. Since large numbers of people started using HUD systems, they mentally merged the heads up data with what they saw through the windscreen and when they contradicted each other, this caused confusion and stress. It only takes momentary confusion at 50 miles per hour to find themselves in an accident situation,” he explained.

The more sophisticated units such as the Pioneer system released 2013 in the video below, do have some advantages over the cheaper units because they also include character recognition of outside objects such as speed signs. This means that if the car navigation database says the speed is 50 mph but the sign on the road says 30 mph, the navigation instructions will give higher credence to the physical roadside sign.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy6_peevesU 

John Doe went on say that many car nav companies have managed to get their prices very low by purchasing cheap car navigation data and not updating them as often. People accepted that for a low price, they weren’t going to get high detail map updates and because the map wasn’t in their face, they were able to deal with the discrepancies.

Portable HUD car GPS manufacturers are now adding modular components to their systems including WiFi cameras and adding software to their Smartphones and Portable Car GPS devices including character recognition, distance and speed of the car in front and connection to in car entertainment such as streaming audio. Legislators are now looking at enforcement of restrictions, ensuring that drivers can only see car control related information on the HUD, ensuring they can’t be distracted by videos. email messages etc which can also technically be displayed on the screen whilst driving.


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Comment by oxnsox, on 30-Jul-2013 21:37

The only thing that works in real time is the GPS, sands we know that these don't have the precision that users attribute to them.  Road works, weather, traffic and other variables means realtime spatial and condition updates for consumer services are still some way off.  Unless someone finds a way to make it affordable. ....


Author's note by PDAMan, on 1-Aug-2013 08:25

Accuracy is surprisingly good these days. It struggles on mobiles or PND's a little in urban canyons and canyons in places like the West Coast, but largely it is good to around 10 metres which is plenty accurate. The roadworks and real time traffic is extremely good on TomTom devices in New Zealand and Australia as managed by GeoSmart, a subsidiary of the NZAA which also runs AA Traffic and AA Roadwatch. TomTom combines the information from GeoSmart (which includes commercially fleet tracked vehicles) with information from TomTom users who have allowed their anonymous data to be shared vis the SIM card in their PND's. I use it all the time myself and it is the most accurate service I've seen anywhere in the world for both congestion and road works etc.  The times I didn't trust it, it was me that was wrong. There are other inferior services that I won't name. For example one very large service that I found regularly confuses red traffic lights with congestion. 


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Luigi Cappel
Auckland
New Zealand


Helping people getting their message to potential customers with blogs and social media.
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