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Amstermdam-based GPS-maker TomTom has announced the launch of their online route planner tool today. From what I can tell, this could be a real competitor to Google Maps and/or Mapquest. The biggest difference between the TomTom online route planner and other route planners is that it the routes it provides are "intelligent".
What intelligent means is that the directions TomTom provides changes based on time of day and historical traffic. What might be the best way from point A to point B during a weekday rush hour will be different than on Sunday at 7am.
The next piece of the route planner is TomTom’s HD traffic function. This only works in London and Holland currently but basically what happens here is that data from TomTom’s gps customers is sent back to TomTom so that real, live traffic can be displayed on the online map and then routes changed accordingly. One interesting note – TomTom gets data from Vodaphone when their customers make calls and are moving – basically TomTom can tell how much traffic there is from someone speaking on a phone while in route – that’s pretty damn slick (and scary!).
Lastly, TomTom uses MapShare which allows their GPS customers to report incorrect maps (i.e. when a street shows one-way on the map, but it’s really two way or when a street no longer exists). Those changes are sent immediately back to TomTom and are updated nightly to the online map.
If TomTom can figure out how to get their GPS customers to both use and spread the word about the new online route service, it could gain some much needed traction. The online route service is currently in beta.
Here’s a demo video explaining how the system works: