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It was something we didn't catch at CES, but it's about to make a big splash in vehicle navigation systems. A prototype, created in a collaboration between Volkswagen's Electronics Research Lab, Google and the graphics chip maker, nVidia, was shown at CES that incorporated the images from Google Earth into a navigation system that is as close to 3-D as it gets. Traditional web-based navigation features, such as overlaying points of interest like restaurants, gas stations and dealerships, along with real-time traffic updates, are incorporated into 3-dimensional satellite imaging. In addition to looking much cooler than your standard 2-D system, the 3-dimensional system is more accurate and efficient than what's currently available, according to the release.

Volkswagen hasn't said a date yet other than to announce that it is "closer to visual reality."

Full press release after the jump. Release and photos courtesy of Volkswagen.

03 February 2006

Virtual Reality: Prototype with Google Earth creates realistic
3D, satellite-based map

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Volkswagen of America, Inc. and Google recently presented the future of vehicle navigation at the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and it’s closer to virtual reality than ever before.  

Volkswagen, Google, and graphics chipmaker, nVidia, are working on an in-car navigation map system and display that is 3-dimensional and more real looking than anything that’s available today.

Driver and Passenger will be able to instinctively recognize where they are in relation to the surrounding topography, especially in urban areas that are depicted with depth and accurate size relationships between buildings and roads.

Volkswagen, working through its Electronic Research Laboratory (ERL), in Palo Alto, Calif., together with Google and nVidia, is also working on other advancements, including automatic personalized content updates for its vehicle navigation systems.

Highlights of Volkswagen’s prototype vehicle include a vehicle-centric touchscreen interface to Google Earth with state-of-the-art graphics, accurate 3D maps and real-time traffic updates and routing.  This open system harnesses the power of the web to maintain a dynamic database of current information on restaurants, dealerships, gas stations and other points of interest that can be overlaid directly onto the user’s 3D map.  With the increasing accuracy of GPS, dead-reckoning and laser-radar imaging, as well as ever-improving car-to-infrastructure communication, this prototype will be available on showroom floors in the near future.

High-quality 3D and satellite-based representations of the world are becoming an exciting feature in on-line search engines and navigation.  These photo-realistic, high-resolution 3D images are not only more engaging for the user, but they are also more efficient and accurate at conveying information than traditional 2D mapping representations.

About the Electronics Research Laboratory

The Volkswagen of America, Inc. Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) focuses on providing customers with smarter cars, sooner. It aims to identify new technologies and accelerate their development into future production vehicles. Located in Palo Alto, California, the ERL is a high-profile think-tank representing the Volkswagen Group in North America. Its presence in the heart of Silicon Valley allows the Volkswagen Group to work directly with the world's leading high-tech companies, start-ups, and universities. Working closely with these partners allows the ERL to design and develop innovative features and applications, which are then integrated with Group vehicles for evaluation and testing. For additional information please visit www.vwerl.com.

Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is one of the world’s largest producers of passenger cars and Europe’s largest automaker. Volkswagen of America and its affiliates employ approximately 3,000 people in the United States and are responsible for the sale and service of Audi, Bentley, and Volkswagen products through retail networks comprising in total more than 900 independent U.S. dealers. 

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      @ Noah:
      Ohhh...that was the greatest post ever, Noah, bravo !
      You may stick to your 10$ paper map book, other people that live in the 21st century might use a nav. system and enjoy it (like myself: born and raised in another nation, in another continent, and now in the USA...). I hope it hasn't been too distressing for you to let go of your horse and carriage, it shouldn't have been. And trust me, it won't be as well when you let go of your paper map book: the 21st century and its technology it's mostly quite user-friendly, do not be afraid, kiddo.
      One last thing, mr. genius, does it seem to you appropriate to be meddling with a map when you are driving ? Concentrate and the answer will magically appear in your brain. It doesn't ? Well let me answer for you then: NO !
      Go get a life and a bit of self esteem (you seem so much concerned about people laughing at this or that, are you THAT insecure as a person ???), good luck.

      • 8 Years Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      Actually, note that this one updates via the Internet.

      Whenever Google updates either Google Local or Google Earth, this gets updated when you connect it to the Internet.
      • 5 Years Ago
      A very smart and diplomatic answer. It’s really appreciable and general.
      Care for Cars
      • 9 Years Ago
      I can seriously see my apt. from that picture
      • 9 Years Ago
      This sort of display has been around for years in Japan.
      Saw a demo unit in a shop in Osaka. It looked all the world like a Daytona arcade game, but very realistic.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This works well for finding Film My Ride Picture Car rentals featuring Chevrolet backgrounds located in San Diego, California

      • 9 Years Ago
      File this one under "not going to happen".

      I think navigation systems are stupid anyways, their a pointless gizmo that will crapup on you after 5 years and be so out of date in 10 people will laugh at your car because of it, just like they laugh at the 1990 Pontiac Bonneville SSE and it's silly DIC system. Putting a navigation system in a car doesn't make it more reliable it just makes it appeal to stupid people who can't use a regular map. VW should be figuring out how to make expensive german cars that DON'T fall appart, it seems sometime around 1993 they forgot...

      My $10 paper map book works fine for me.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Very Good
      • 9 Years Ago
      Oh boy, I can't wait!

      When I ask for directions home, I'll end up at an epoxy plant twenty miles away in the suburbs! And that Chinese restaurant, I like? Who knew it was in a residential area three blocks from my house. I sure didn't. Every time I actually ate there I had to go to the shopping center a mile and a half away.

      Satnav? Great! Google Earth? Needs some work. (But I do feel I'm getting my money's worth from it.)
      • 9 Years Ago
      I've always wondered what Google was up to with its "maps" program. Now, this makes sense. I'm not too much a friend of navigation systems, as I consider them too costly for the few times I'd use them, but if I had to take one, this would be my favorite.
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