Smartnav skirts jams to find quickest route

The UK’s first jam-busting traffic navigation system will be offered to motorists from April.

Telematics services provider Trafficmaster and Motorola, which jointly developed the Smartnav system, said it will offer drivers the quickest route to their destination, while steering them away from delays.

Trafficmaster already collects data from sensors located along 8,000 miles of the UK’s major roads to provide real-time warnings of traffic jams, roadworks and other hold-ups. The information is delivered via a range of devices, including mobile phones and speech-based modules.

Smartnav will use a central Motorola navigation server based on the electronics giant’s new iRadio technology to send data to each user’s telematics device. This will supply drivers with the best route to take, steering them away from problems as they occur along the journey.

Current in-car navigation systems use information stored on a CD-ROM carried in the vehicle. Although the maps are highly detailed, they cannot account for what is happening on the UK’s often chaotic road network during a journey.

‘The current navigation systems can direct you straight into a traffic jam,’ said a Trafficmaster spokeswoman. ‘Working out the best route depends on knowing where the hold-ups are, because the most direct may not be the quickest on the day.’At present the only way to combine real-time traffic data with on-board navigation is to fit both systems and work out for yourself the best way to go.

Smartnav will initially be sold as a separate unit. However, Trafficmaster has signed deals with several automotive manufacturers to install its previous products in selected models and the new system is likely to follow.

Trafficmaster, which also has networks in Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux countries, this week announced it would focus on offering technologically advanced services such as Smartnav. It is to withdraw from the far more competitive fleet- management market.

Managers at Fleetstar, its UK fleet-tracking operation, are holding talks over a possible buy-out of the business.