Editors’ Note: In honor of launching the NNG Blog, we sat down for an interview with the CEO, Giles Shrimpton.
How do you see the future of navigation?
The future of navigation has a number of very exciting developments, and there are many technology changes which are going to happen.
First, more and more vehicles are becoming connected, and this trend will have a major impact. Currently, only a third of new cars sold come with some sort of connected capability, but within 10 years, the majority of new cars will be internet capable.
The second major stream deals with the changes in mobility and the new ways that people will make use of vehicles. This new trend, mobility as a service, is when consumers will view transportation as a service instead of owning a vehicle. This means that the importance of software will increase.
A third change we’ll see while moving forward is the introduction of autonomous vehicles, which is a technological revolution.
When you consider all of these changes, a company like ourselves is well positioned and totally capable of providing value in all of these spaces going forward.
What do you think about hybrid navigation? Do you think it’s game changer for the automotive segment?
When discussing hybrid navigation, we tend to talk a lot about technologies, but that’s not all it is. NNG already has a type of hybrid navigation – we offer live services with onboard navigation. But, hybrid navigation is more like a process. It will end up going all the way to a lot of functionality happening in the cloud, and just a very few things being done in the vehicle.
We need to focus on the value it gives to the end user. We need to provide significant benefits, such as making journeys shorter and more enjoyable, and then the technology solution will take off. It is also important to prove the benefits to our key partners – the car manufacturers and hardware Tier1s. For them, hybrid navigation can provide a constantly improving user experience (despite the aging head units), and it can reserve the onboard navigation footprint for other applications.
Hybrid navigation is important because more and more of the mapping industry is investing in incredibly detailed, HD maps. Because of this, we will need to make our experience even more accurate. Hybrid provides over-the-air update solutions which always delivers fresh maps to drivers.
Logically, because of the size, these will at least partially reside on the cloud. That, for me, is hybrid. So, we will need to have a route for accessing the data.
What are the biggest advantages that NNG has in the automotive market?
Our biggest advantage is that we are a white-label company. As a trusted advisor, we can help OEMs and Tier1s find the best solutions with the best providers which fit to the customer needs. We can make whatever solution the customer wants us to, and we can make it easy for them.
Next, we have the most global product of all our competitors. We’re ahead in Japan, we have a good product in China, we have a good solution in India, and the list goes on.
Since we’re not dependent on any single service or map provider, we have a good method of applying data from different sources. If an automotive provider needs a specific service provider, we just say yes. Being able to do this gives us a competitive advantage.
Also, our core product has a line that goes all the way from the entry-level to the luxury segment. From the technical perspective, our biggest advantage is the ability to integrate into any segment. We have something that’s very similar to our competitors, but we do it better with ease of integration.
How do you see the role of navigation in the self-driving car era?
I see autonomous vehicles as already capable of getting from Point A to Point B, and they will continue to evolve.
As a company, we have all the competencies to have our products meet the changing needs that will be created by autonomous vehicles. For example, we will be able to work with HD maps. Also, we are able to extend our functionality into other areas, and I am looking to position NNG there.
Once there are prototypes of autonomous cars, things will happen quickly. There is ongoing public testing in the US and in Europe, and there are cars driving themselves in certain, specific areas, but the mass update will be slower. That won’t happen until after 2025, and in reality, we’re talking 2030 before it’s affecting vehicle sales on a large scale.
The market today is based on selling new vehicles, but it will move to being based on kilometers driven. This will be mobility as a service, and autonomous vehicles will be linked to that. There will be autonomous vehicles, connected cars, and electrification in all things. We have a very good solution for electric vehicles, and we already see a growing trend for them in cities.
Does navigation have an important place in the self-driving car market, now?
Yes, but it also has to evolve. Software in self-driving cars has to regard safety as critical, but it still has to have all the belts and braces it needs.
The autonomous vehicles of the future won’t have the same navigation as we have today, but NNG has all the competencies and abilities to meet the needs that they will have.
On a more personal level, since you’re not Hungarian, how is Budapest as a place to live and work?
It’s a perfect place to live and work, and it’s a truly beautiful city. It has all the activities normally found in a capital city, but it doesn’t have the same level of problems as in the major cities like London or Paris. There is less pollution, less traffic, etc.
Plus, from an English guy, the weather is great! It’s quite dry and hardly rains.
So, I say it’s fantastic, and that’s why it’s been rated as one of the top 10 cities in the world.