DETROIT - While companies such as Siemens Automotive Corp. push ahead with navigation systems, standards to guarantee those units will work in all vehicles are being developed at lightning speed.
Many of the standards that spell out how a navigation unit connects to a vehicle and taps into its computer likely will be final by Jan. 1, just two years after work began.
Normally, standards lag behind introduction of technology, said Herb Kaufman, manager of standards development and research for SAE International in Warrendale, Pa. That is because 90 percent of the people working on standards do it as volunteers, he said.
But in this case the industry has a friend in the U.S. government, which has provided almost $4 million for a five-year effort to develop standards. The project is in its second year. That enabled SAE, which is overseeing the standards development, to hire full-time staffers.
Having standards soon will speed introduction of the systems, said Ron Knockeart, vice president of Siemens ITS North America. 'It takes the car companies three to four years to develop their products. And if they're planning on putting a traveler information system in, the big fear is that the technology will be out of date by the time the vehicle is launched,' Knockeart said.
The plan that the standards are being developed around envisions:
An infrastructure data bus, to provide a common link between units such as navigation, traffic data, emergency service and future uses.
A gateway switch linking the infrastructure data bus to the vehicle's main data bus. The gateway would allow systems, such as a navigation unit, to tap into vehicle sensors to determine distance traveled without interfering with crucial data such as engine controls.