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Traffic jam services in the practice check: finally useful traffic jam indicators

Traffic services in practice check
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F Friday afternoon in Stuttgart: On the thoroughfares, the traffic torments at walking pace, long queues in front of traffic lights strain the patience of drivers. For once a reason to be happy, because there is no better time to test traffic jam services. The task for four navigation systems is the same: It is important to recognize as many traffic obstructions as possible and to display them precisely on the navigation monitor. Because what good is the best route guide if he is blind to the real traffic situation and sends the driver straight into the next traffic jam?

The good old TMC (Traffic Message Channel), as it is often in portable ones, starts off Navigation systems of the lower price range, but also still occurs in some ex-works systems. With TMC, traffic reports are transmitted via VHF and received by navigation systems. Since the obstacles have to be reported by the police, ADAC and traffic control centers, traffic jams have often long since cleared up by the time they appear on the navigation monitor. In addition, mainly motorways and expressways are recorded, while TMC is almost unusable in urban areas.

TMC unsuitable for meaningful route guidance

In fact, our suction cup navigation system with TMC ignored the heavy traffic jam on the B14, which ran through Stuttgart. Even half an hour after the obstruction was indicated by the fastest systems, it still reported that the road was clear. A mistake. TMC also only incompletely recorded the congestion at the Stuttgart motorway junction - it is therefore unsuitable for meaningful route guidance.

It is better to drive with TMC Pro, also known as Navteq Traffic, which is now in many infotainment systems ex works. TMC Pro largely dispenses with human traffic jam alarms in favor of automatically recorded traffic data. Rather, thousands of induction loops embedded in the asphalt, sensors attached to bridges and measuring systems installed in fleet vehicles automatically and quickly recognize obstructions. In addition, inner-city main roads are recorded.

TMC Pro too late for sensible route planning

The bottleneck remains the Transmission via FM. Even if TMC Pro transmits with a slightly higher bandwidth than the old TMC, in our test it took almost half an hour until the congested city center was announced - too late for onesensible route planning. At least the motorway traffic jams were reported more quickly.

How good traffic recording can be today became apparent when switching to the two online devices. Not only that changes in vehicle traffic were passed on within a few minutes; Thanks to the high data rate of mobile Internet connections, a much finer route grid is possible: RTTI (Real Time Traffic Information) divides BMW roads into 500-meter-short sections, the traffic density of which is multicolored from green (free) to yellow and orange to red (traffic jam) is displayed.

Real-time data from mobile phone movement profiles

But how do the devices know exactly where is it just stuck? In addition to sensor data and fleet vehicles, online systems such as those offered by Audi and Renault make use of anonymised movement profiles from cell phones that are carried in the car. Millions of traffic jam sensors draw an exact picture of the traffic situation unnoticed and in real time, which even includes inner-city side streets. No wonder that the BMW system was in the picture with almost no delay in our test both in the city and on the motorway.

If you want to enjoy the clever traffic jam detectors, you don't even have to buy a new car : Rather, the technology was introduced by TomTom (HD-Traffic) in 2008 and can now be used in a similar form by portable route guides from various manufacturers. However, there are usually additional fees. But it's also free: Anyone who has a smartphone with Google Maps function and data flat rate can load a precise picture of the current traffic flows onto their mobile phone display via Google Traffic.

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