Volkswagen & Google Earth: It’s serious

A few weeks ago at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, when Volkswagen and Google announced they’d cooperate to build a prototype 3D navigation system built on Google Earth, some GIS pros were skeptical, and as far as I was concerned, convincingly so. The wireless technology just isn’t there yet, they said. And maps are clearer to use.

Even so, Volkswagen’s Electronics Research Laboratory chose to issue a press release today that adds detail and seems to strengthen their commitment to the project. They’ll get help from nVidia, and a prototype appears to be well under way:

Highlights of Volkswagen’s prototype vehicle include a vehicle-centric touchscreen interface to Google Earth with state-of-the-art graphics, accurate 3D maps and real-time traffic updates and routing. This open system harnesses the power of the web to maintain a dynamic database of current information on restaurants, dealerships, gas stations and other points of interest that can be overlaid directly onto the user’s 3D map. With the increasing accuracy of GPS, dead-reckoning and laser-radar imaging, as well as ever-improving car-to- infrastructure communication, this prototype will be available on showroom floors in the near future.

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