TomTom Wants to Provide Location Data For Self-Driving Cars

May 04, 2015 01:36 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

At some point, people will be able to rely on self-driving cars to get around. When that time comes, TomTom wants to be the one that automakers can rely on to provide those autonomous vehicles with the necessary mapping technology to get owners where they need to go.

Company chief executive Harold Goddijn said this weekend that besides Google, TomTom is one of the few companies that automakers and customers feel confident in when it comes to providing drivers quality and timely location data.

"We are seen by our customers as the guys with the right ideas on how you do those things," Goddijn said to Reuters.

This might seem surprising since TomTom had been on a bit of a tailspin for a while after reaching mega contracts with TeleAtlas and Matt Maps, which proved futile.

Soon after, cheaper and more convenient options like smartphone navigation entered the fray, crushing TomTom's profit margins in the process.

TomTom scored a big win in 2012 when the company was selected by Apple to replace Google Maps as its main mapping data supplier.

Since then, the automotive division for the Dutch company has secured contracts with Fiat, Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen thanks to an improved digital mapping architecture. Those contracts, along with others, have helped TomTom shares rise 40 percent, according to Reuters.

From its Bandit action cameras to its fitness watches, analysts and companies like what they're seeing from TomTom and there's more to come. The company is working on improving its telematics business to help supply companies like Kia and Hyundai with devices to make self-driving cars a reality.

"It's exciting and it's scary, because millions of cars will come and there's tons of data going to be produced," Goddijn said.

TomTom is also able to do something Goddijn claims no other company can do: edit maps on the go. The company has the technology to update maps "on the fly" through feedback from vehicles on the road, which is then sent out to other drivers using TomTom devices, according to Reuters.

"No one else has that," Goddijn said.

Advancements like that could help TomTom win over more automakers in the future, which would mean bad news for Google and Nokia's map-making business HERE.

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