TomTom could spur autonomous car tech

With people rapidly switching to smartphones and in-car infotainment systems for help navigating, the mapmakers at TomTom are charting a new path for the business. Under its latest strategy, the company thinks its tech could become a major platform for future autonomous vehicles.

After the plummet in demand for dashboard nav systems, the company went through a rough patch. However, since then, the focus there has shifted to licensing maps, including to Apple. It also signed deals with Volkswagen, Fiat, Hyundai, and Kia, and there's a growing fleet management business in Europe. TomTom's current mapping tech can adjust itself immediately based on driver feedback and disseminate the changes to others, according to Automotive News.

TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn thinks the company's solutions might even stand up to Google for autonomous vehicles. That's a pretty optimistic statement with the search giant's push into the infotainment software business and self-driving prototypes. And there's another potential problem, as well: HERE, a mapping company that controls 70 percent of the car market, is going up for sale. Depending on the buyer, the business could become an even bigger competitor for TomTom.

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