Cities with smart traffic control will look more “turn-of-the-century.” 19th-Century, that is. Before automobiles, when there were only horses who averaged about 5 miles per hour, there was no need for stop signs, lane markings, one-way streets or traffic signals. But the human-piloted automobiles came and you know what happened. But with autonomous vehicles connected via 5G to a central traffic management system, those human-friendly stop signs, lane dividers, one-way streets, etc. won’t be needed. In fact, they would just slow down traffic. So, who will control smart city traffic?
Such a system will involve accumulating and crunching massive amounts of vehicle and environmental data (Inrix or Iteris), edge computing, 5G communication and maybe even quantum computing. On the way to this technological utopia, there’s going to be a hybrid stage where human and digital drivers coexist. That means cars will still need a dashboard to guide us. Right now, it looks like TomTom is claiming that spot. TomTom uses what3words to navigate and is now integrated into Mercedes, Mitusbishi, Ford, Kia/Hyundai, GM and others. It has over 1,000 PCT applications and is pursuing patents in the traffic control space. It has partnered with Elektrobit to enable automated vehicles by giving them a comprehensive view of their surroundings. TomTom will provide the detailed high definition (HD) maps for Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) and AD; Elektrobit will integrate this with its EB robinos Predictor software to communicate the data to ADAS.
TomTom started from the map and is working its way up the technology chain. Where will it end? Look for more partnering and maybe acquisitions as it progresses along the path to a complete traffic control solution. Want to know who could be next? Check out the Patent Forecast® for Smart Cities: Traffic Control