Category Archives: GPS

Uber backs up self-driving car moves with new mapping tech

connected-car-normalUber has announced plans to ‘double-down’ its investments in digital mapping technologies to decrease its reliance on external sources and create a route into the autonomous vehicles sub-sector, reports

The move comes after the team announced a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, though possibly wouldn’t come as a surprise though who keep an eye on industry hires. Last year, the team hired Brian McClendon, a former Googler who was part responsible for the development of Google Maps, Earth, Streetview and EarthEngine, who has since been working on the internal Uber mapping solutions. The move also provides more credibility to a company which is planning to enter into the competitive world of self-driving cars.

“Existing maps are a good starting point, but some information isn’t that relevant to Uber, like ocean topography,” said McClendon in a statement on the company website. “There are other things we need to know a lot more about, like traffic patterns and precise pickup and drop off locations. Moreover, we need to be able to provide a seamless experience in parts of the world where there aren’t detailed maps — or street signs.

“The ongoing need for maps tailored to the Uber experience is why we’re doubling down on our investment in mapping. Last year we put mapping cars on the road in the United States. This summer they hit the road in Mexico. Our efforts are similar to what other companies including Apple and TomTom are already doing around the world.”

The company already has an in-house mapping technology, though it has also been using third-party solutions also, including Google Maps. Google and Uber have traditionally been close, Google Ventures invested almost $300 million into the Uber in 2013, though it would appear the team are keen to move away from its reliance on third parties by bolstering its own engineering team. Efforts have focused on the US to date, though the mapping vehicles have begun work in Mexico, with other countries on the list in the future.

A significant area of growth for Uber is customers using the app when they are on holiday or on business trips (i.e. US customers using when travel to Europe or Asia), as opposed to local taxis at the airport. One of the main challenges here is how accurate local maps are in developing nations. Google will likely be making efforts to improve this, though Uber has a more urgent need to improve the accuracy due to its commercial link. This could be seen as enough of a driver in itself.

Back in May, Uber launched a hybrid Ford Fusion into Pittsburgh from its Advanced Technologies Centre (ATC), its first stage of testing its own efforts in the self-driving cars arena. Uber is later to the game than others in the sub-sector, though one of the long-term use cases for the technology is in taxis, public transit and also the transportation of goods. Although a young company, due to its market dominance Uber is a solid position to capitalize on the potential of the sub-sector once the technology is perfected.

Having its own mapping technology gives the organization a sense of credibility in what could prove to be a sensitive sub-sector, but also demonstrates the commitment of the team. Although figures have not been announced, $500 million has been reported as the investment which will be made into the technology.

While the company has not outlined any intentions to be a competitor to Google Maps, it could provide another useful revenue stream for the business moving forward. During the early days of Google’s Geo division, there was no immediate return for the business though this did not stop the internet giant investing heavily into the technology. In the years since, mapping technologies have become an important component of numerous websites and apps, as well as playing a more central role in the day-to-day lives of consumers. Mapping is clearly a very important aspect of an organization such as Uber, though the long-term licensing potential for the technology should the team be able to provide a solution which can compete with Google, could be attractive.

One example of this potential is the on-going Pokémon Go craze, which is continuing to attract users each day. Although a relatively simple game itself, the app combines an augment reality offering alongside Google Maps technology to create such an experience. Numerous other applications and websites use the Google technology also, representing a useful revenue stream which the internet giant currently dominates.

“Over the past decade mapping innovation has disrupted industries and changed daily life in ways I couldn’t have imagined when I started,” said McClendon. “That progress will only accelerate in the coming years especially with technologies like self-driving cars. I remain excited by the prospect of how maps can put the world at our fingertips, improve everyday life, impact billions of people and enable innovations we can’t even imagine today.”

New SkyRouter Mobile Satellite Tracking, Fleet Management Apps Support iOS, Android

Blue Sky Network today  launched its New SkyRouter mobile application, a fleet management portal for land mobile, aviation, and marine applications. New SkyRouter is a cloud-based solution designed to support connectivity with remotely dispersed mobile assets including Blue Sky Network’s advanced dual-mode GSM and Iridiumtracking and communication services. With the New SkyRouter application, fleet managers are provided around-the-clock connectivity with assets via most Android or iOS mobile phones or tablets.

“The reliance that we have toward our mobile devices has opened up new fleet management opportunities for Blue Sky Network,” said Jon Gilbert, CEO and founder of Blue Sky Network. “The New SkyRouter App provides fleet managers the same constant connectivity in a user friendly mobile interface. Our easy-to-use mobile application provides fleet owners and managers who are on the go, real-time access to asset information.”

Features of the New SkyRouter mobile application include GPS location, fleet asset lists, breadcrumb mapping, active asset indication, automated event reports, and drill-down on asset events. Leveraging the integration of Blue Sky Network’s industry-leading tracking hardware, the new application provides truly global coverage of assets located anywhere in the world. The New SkyRouter application works in combination with Blue Sky Network’s robust and Iridium certified hardware, which can be easily installed on land, aviation and marine assets.

The New SkyRouter Mobile application will be available for download at the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store in early October. The product is in beta release and slated for production in Q4 2012.

Blue Sky Network will also be showcasing the New SkyRouter mobile application at the MINExpo International 2012, taking place in Las Vegas during September 24-26, in booth number 21209.

For more information on Blue Sky Network and the new mobile SkyRouter application, please visit:

TeleCommunication Systems Receives 35 U.S. Patents Advancing Mapping/Mobile Location, Public Safety, Messaging, Wireless Data

Image representing TeleCommunication Systems a...

TeleCommunication Systems, Inc. today announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued TCS 35 patents related to mobile location/mapping, public safety, messaging and wireless data.

Patents from this new group include 13 mapping and mobile location patents, covering navigation and route determination, location and points of interest, and techniques for locating a user:

Navigation and Route Determination:

  • “Method and System for Dynamic Estimation and Predictive Route Generation” (U.S. Patent No. 8,095,152)
  • “Stateful, Double-Buffered Dynamic Voice Prompting” (U.S. Patent No. 8,099,238)
  • “System and Method for Providing Routing, Mapping, and Relative Position Information to Users of a Communication Network” (U.S. Patent No. 8,107,608)
  • “Method and System for Enabling an Off-Board Navigation Solution” (U.S. Patent No. 8,090,534)
  • “Method and System for Saving and Retrieving Spatial Related Information” (U.S. Patent No. 8,169,343)

The location and points of interest patents provide important benefits for computing and mapping devices that receive discrete position updates for the purpose of monitoring, planning and analysis of mobile devices’ positional information used for mapping, routing and direction finding. Key aspects also include requesting and receiving audio navigation voice prompts and new methods for storing and retrieving locations and/or metadata, such as stop points and images.

Location and Points of Interest:

  • “Device-Based Trigger for Location Push Event” (U.S. Patent No.8,099,105)
  • “Predictive Ephemeral Points of Interest (PEPOI)” (U.S. Patent No. 8,156,068)
  • “Position Identification Method and System” (U.S. Patent No. 8,090,796)
  • “Wireless Network Location-Based Reference Information” (U.S. Patent No. 8,032,166)

Many navigation solutions utilize a database of points of interest (POI) to assist the user in efficiently and effectively routing to/from locations. POIs can be either fixed, such as restaurants, gas stations, etc., or moveable, such as employees and vehicles. The data associated with most POIs can be outdated, as it is stored when the system is created. Thus, conventional navigation systems, for example, would return a list of all possible gas stations to the user, regardless of operating hours, as well as whether or not the POI moved. These patents provide a means to allow the owners of POIs to securely update and post their information on a real-time basis, while also providing a means for the navigation system to predict the future locations of POIs. The patents also cover the use of location triggers for points of interest based upon previous user patterns, stored preferences, etc.

Techniques for Locating a User:

  • “Personal Location Code” (U.S. Patent No. 8,165,603)
  • “Location Fidelity Adjustment Based on Mobile Subscriber Privacy Profile (“Location and Privacy”)” (U.S. Patent No. 8,126,889)
  • “Location Derived Presence Information” (U.S. Patent No. 8,032,112)
  • “User Plane Location-Based Service Using Message Tunneling to Support Roaming” (U.S. Patent No. 8,126,458)

These inventions allow both a caller and receiver to provide each other with position information related to the caller and/or receiver’s physical location, including address information, GPS coordinates and nearby fixed locations (such as a parking structure, etc.) while the users are stationary or roaming. The user controls who accesses this information.

“TCS has long been a pioneer and leading innovator in messaging, mobile location/mapping, public safety and wireless technology,” said Maurice B. Tose, TCS chairman, CEO and president. “These 35 new patents – including the 13 mapping & location patents – demonstrate our continued commitment to apply innovative engineering solutions to improve mobile device communications.”

“There are significant opportunities to leverage our company’s 200+ patents and other intellectual property around the world, through both licensing and partnership arrangements in core and non-core business areas,” said Bob Held, TCS senior director of intellectual asset management.

With clear strengths in mobile location/mapping, public safety, messaging, and wireless communication fields, TCS has created an impressive intellectual property portfolio. Meaningful partnerships with other industry-leading companies can be developed through direct licensing, cross licensing and joint venture agreements. In 2011, TCS was issued 44 U.S. patents; for the year to date, 29 U.S. patents have been issued, bringing the total number of patents issued worldwide to TCS to date to 218, with 309 patent applications pending worldwide.

The following is a complete list of these new patents: Mobile Location/Mapping (13): 8,095,152; 8,099,238; 8,099,105; 8,166,603; 8,169,343; 8,107,608; 8,032,166; 8,032,112; 8,126,458; 8,126,889; 8,156,068; 8,090,534; 8,090,796. Public Safety (11):8,103,242; 8,068,587; 8,059,789; 8,102,972; 8,102,252; 8,116,722; 8,155,109; 8,149,997; 8,150,363; 8,150,364; 8,175,570. Wireless Data (5): 8,090,856; 8,089,401; 8,095,663; 8,127,025; 8,161,553. Messaging (4): 8,073,477; 8,090,341; 8,175,953; 8,060,429. Semiconductor Drives (1): 8,154,881. Secure Communications (1): 8,090,941.