An interesting picture of the automotive future has been described by Michelle Krebs at Readers Digest starting with the a description of the automotive everyday live in 2020. The picture looks very much the same as others, who have taken a glance into the crystal ball. Sooner or later, we all expect the car to be personalized and able to find its way autonomously.
Different to others, Krebs asks so questions, the automobile industry doesn’t consider very often within “cheery visions” – that is, who or what will provide all the energy needed. Gasoline is getting more and more expensive (see Current Gas Prices and Price Histroy), though new alternatives need to be found. According to most expertises, sooner or later, hydrogen will replace gasoline as the number one resource for energy in vehicular traffic. Current trends of German car production confirm the consumers search for power alternatives. The following chart shows the trends in German automobile production (Data Source: Daten zur Automobilwirtschaft, Ausgabe 2008, Verband der Automobilindustrie) concerning energy resources.

Next to new ways to build car engines (hybrid, electric, or hydrogen engines) to satisfy the growing power demand in individual traffic, I believe that managing traffic in a smarter way should be mentioned much more often when discussing questions of energy consumption in vehicular traffic.

According to editor, the first edition Infotainment Systems Report provides an in-depth look at the evolving area of Vehicle Infotainement Systems in automotive industry. Areas covered include head units, bluetooth, satellite, radio, TV, rear seat entertainment, navigation, in-vehicle computing, hdd, cameras, networking, telematics and semiconductors.

The second major section of the report includes company profiles of the world’s leading infotainment system suppliers. Each profile concisely details management, products, plants and sales as well as providing analysis on strategy, product development, and offering an evaluation of the company’s prospects.

For further information including a detailed table of contents, look up Bharat Book Bureau. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to take a look into the report. Does anyone has? Is it its 716 British Pounds worth?

There are a few video interview excerpts from various key players (Intel, QNX Software Systems, Windriver, and Panasonic) about the growing excitement on next generation infotainment systems inside vehicles.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

This article is still a stub, so don’t take it too seriously 😉

I have been thinking about the following question:

If we equip our cars of the future with additional car electonics and communication equipment (which for sure consumes some additional power and consequently additional fuel) and add some smart traffic flow applications on top – which provide you with a smoother ride and claim a less overall fuel consumption – how good do they have to be to make you smile on your next trip to the gas station?

I see a metric here for determining the quality of such applications: Liters per 100 kilometers (well, there are for sure other metrices out there which also play a role: average driver stress reduction per hour, traffic jam length reduction per day, number of vehicle generated deaths per year – to name just a few that pop into mind – but for now let’s face on our precious environment).

If your application for traffic flow increases the fuel consumption and the CO2 production because you need a small mainframe in your vehicle to run the calculations – should you rethink if you really want to do this?

Soon I want to post some hard numbers here. Because the additional power consumption should be equally divided along all applications running on your vehicular PC. And there is still the power needed for manufacturing and recycling your hardware, which should not be left out of the equation.

I see a matrix here (right now filled with bogus information):

Application Savings
Speed advisory application 0.5 liters / 100 km
Turning off air conditioning 0.5 liters / 100 km

Let’s see, when I find the time for that… HELP! 🙂

Today the Telematics Detroit 2008 ended and Intel and Wind River announced to slap together a hard-/ softwareplattform for in-car usage and publish it at Sporting an Intel Atom processor and a software package for all your multimedia needs. It is not another car multimedia PC, but claims to be integrated with CAN and MOST bus systems.

Could this be a common ground for all us Linux developers out there who want to provide automotive software for a fully specified platform? This could partially be decided by the community at Moblin.

Be sure to check out the Moblin promotional video over at If you liked the U-2010 video, this is your poison too.


  1. heise online, “Wind River und Intel kooperieren: Open Source für den Automobilsektor”, May 22. 2008,–/meldung/108268/from/rss09
  2., “Homepage”, May 22. 2008,
  3., “What if…”, May 22. 2008,
  4., “In-Vehicle Infotainment Community – Community Roadmap”, May 22. 2008,

The “Ubiquitous IP-Centric Government & Enterprise Next Generation Networks – Vision 2010” or U-2010 Integrated Research Project (5. and 6. EU-Call) has some very nices movies about the “Usage of mobile technologies in rescue scenarios”.

Check them out under (part 1-3).


  1. U-2010 Research Project, “Usage of mobile technologies in rescue scenarios
    (RUNES Video Phase 1 – Normal)”, May 22. 2008,

Speech recognition in the vehicle (and other noisy environments ) has always been a topic. The HIWIRE (Human Input That Works In Real Environments) project devoted itself to this question for planes with fixed and mobile equipment. Maybe some of the results are also interesting for vehicular environments. See for yourself at the project website


  1. HIWIRE project, “Homepage”, November 15. 2007,


Which options remain now after WAAS/EGNOS did so poorly here in central Europe?

After chatting with a fellow sufferer at the german federal waterways administration traffic technologies centre in Koblenz I found out that there are several carriers that can boost your GPS performance by providing DGPS data:

  • Costwide MW-DGPS (following the IALA standard)
    This system has been extended land-inwards, which provides a pretty good coverage here in Berlin. There are 2 DGPS stations which transmit the signal. One in Mauken (approx. 100 km away from Berlin) and one in Groß Mohrdorf (approx. 200 km from Berlin).
    The accuracy is < 5 meters when using ECDIS.
  • Eurofix
    This system is bound to LORAN-C, which will not be available in the near future.
    Usable, but you should expect shadowing effects due to the low above horizon orbit of the geostationary satellites (like we did not know that 😉 ). More information is avaiable through the ESA website at
  • ALF
    Was discontinued 2005.
  • SAPOS (HEPS / Satellite positioning service of the German land survey)
    Should be available. But it is not free. More information can be obtained here http://94www.sapos.de95.
    The town of Berlin also has information about SAPOS:
    Also not a free service of the town of Berlin, but if the fees are not that high, it is worth trying this one out.

Seems we are stuck with the services provided by the German land survey and the federal waterways administration. Let’s try both! But wait, there is still the problem: How do we get the data in our GPS receivers?

The RTCM standard provides a solution for that. It feeds the correction signal either from internal or external receivers into our DGPS enabled GPS receiver (through a serial interface for instance) – and we are good to go.

For the medium wave solution (MW-DGPS) there seem to be a couple of receivers out there targeting semi-professional (that’s probably what I want) to professional users from Trimble, Sitex, Garmin, Magellan, Leica and Thales (prices ranging from 300 Euros to way beyond what I would like to spend).

For sure those receivers can also deal with DGPS data delivered through other sources (like the internet) – but I would like to find a low cost (approx. 100 Euro) solution that is compact in size and does not require additional antennas for reception. A mobile data connection would be most convenient for me.

So the next installment will probably be about DGPS devices and how to feed them the data.

Good night and don’t get lost 😉


On the weekend I had some time to go hunting for WAAS / EGNOS satellites. Equipped with a GPS receiver (the Holux GPSlim240) I went to the highest (well – in Berlin it won’t get any better than the Teufelsberg with 115 meters) mountain around and looked if I could receive any of the EGNOS satellites. Unfortunately none of them (not AOR-E, nor IOR-W) showed up despite the good position (all visible obstables had a ground elevation below 10 degrees).

(above you see the position of the EGNOS satellites I should have seen in Berlin at that time)

Well, this makes EGNOS unusable – at least for city streets – where you have a shadowing effect through surrounding property that normally does not give you the nice conditions I had on the Teufelsberg. Seems I have to live with an accuracy of 15 meters for now – if there are enough satellites around to determine a position at all!

Let’s take a closer look at the shadowing effect. After getting home I have taken the Trimble Planning Software and prepared 2 examples (all screen shots are generated with this tool):

In the first example I have chosen a 30 degree shadowing all around like that:

How about the number of GPS satellites you can receive with this shadowing during a whole day?

The visibility does not drop below 3 satellites needed for a 2D-fix, but for a 3D-position fix you will have problems around 3 and 4 p.m. and 2 and 3 p.m. (as a side note: conventional consumer GPS receivers have a suboptimal accuracy when it comes to 3D-fixes – jumping up and down tenth of meters is sometimes only a matter of seconds).

So much for the visibility. How about the accuracy of the signal? Here the “Dilution of Precision” or DoP comes into play, which gives you a “soft” scale on which to rate the current accuracy. The basis for this position quality indicator is each satellite’s location relative to the other satellites in the current constellation and their position in relation to the GPS receiver.

Here are the DoP values with their rating and description:

DOP Value Rating Description
1 Ideal This is the highest possible confidence level to be used for applications demanding the highest possible precision at all times
2-3 Excellent At this confidence level, positional measurements are considered accurate enough to meet all but the most sensitive applications
4-6 Good Represents a level that marks the minimum appropriate for making business decisions. Positional measurements could be used to make reliable in-route navigation suggestions to the user
7-8 Moderate Positional measurements could be used for calculations, but the fix quality could still be improved. A more open view of the sky is recommended
9-20 Fair Represents a low confidence level. Positional measurements should be discarded or used only to indicate a very rough estimate of the current location
21-50 Poor At this level, measurements are inaccurate by as much as half a football field and should be discarde

(taken from Wikipedia)

Below you have the DoP precision graph for Berlin for that day (don’t ask me which was the exact position – it must have been something around N52.5 and E13.3):

The moderate precision level in average does did not provide much confidence to me.

On to the second example: I have chosen a valley shadowing of about 60 degrees which is still (thanx to a colleague for the hint) very optimistic when roaming the streets of Berlin:

The effect was foreseeable: The satellites vanish…

…which has a negative (or positive – depending on how you like to see it) impact on the DoP:

But there is still hope! The local mass transit carrier (BVG) and the shipping carriers also had that problem – and they solved it using MW-DGPS, SAPOS and RDS to access more accurate DGPS data, right? So how about John Doe? Can we get into the exclusive DGPS circle without spending large amounts of money on industrial strength equipment?

More on this in the next installment on GPS accuracy.
Have a nice weekend – and don’t get lost 😉


  1. Holux Technology Inc., “GPSlim 240”, August 19, 2007,
  2. Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein e.V., “Berge und Erhebungen”, August 19. 2007,
  3. Dr. Anja Köhne und Dr. Michael Wößner, “GPS-Infos”, August 19. 2007,
  4. Dr. Anja Köhne und Dr. Michael Wößner, “Sources of Errors in GPS”, August 19. 2007,
  5. Trimble Navigation Limited, “Trimble Planning Software”, August 19. 2007,
  6. Wikipedia, “Dilution of precision (GPS)”, August 19. 2007,