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Happy 12th birthday, NDS! Steady on the way to uniform navigation data

14. October 2021

This autumn marks the 12th anniversary of the founding of the NDS Association. People have outgrown the childhood phase at the age of 12, entering teenagerhood. But what applies to associations like NDS? We can undoubtedly state that we have steadily developed and matured over the last 12 years, and most specifically this applies to the use of technology, which is the focus of all our current activities and plans.

Do you remember what our cars used to look like 12 years ago? E-mobility and autonomous driving seemed like distant visions.

So what did they look like, the first onboard navigation systems?

On the one hand, these were hardware and software solutions from a single supplier, consisting of a highly integrated black box. In addition, there were proprietary software stacks, proprietary software interfaces, proprietary map data formats, and proprietary map compilation. Software and map data formed an inseparable unit, and software and data suppliers could by no means be separated from each other, as the formats developed in-house were closely linked to the navigation solution in functional terms. There was hardly anything that could be reused – which goes completely against the principles of efficiency, transparency, and sustainability that so many companies have adopted or intend to adopt in 2021.

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Happy 12th birthday NDS Association!
Image source: https://www.reshot.com/free-stock-photos/photo/free-hand-photo-from-reshot-yvz690/

All this led to immensely high development costs, a steadily growing number of product variants, high migration costs, and a flooding of the market with more and more data formats. But that was not all, map updates across various car lines could hardly be managed due to the complexity involved. Each system supplier developed and maintained its own memory format, which was precisely tailored to the requirements of their navigation software.

To make navigation systems more affordable – in both luxury and mid-range vehicles – a new, unified approach was urgently needed.

So 12 years ago a small team of international business and industry experts shared the same goal, defining a navigation and standardized map format to resourcefully gain more transparency and efficiency. All NDS founding members wanted to define and change future navigation systems.

Soon after the founding of the new association, other companies in the industry also showed interest in benefiting from the advantages of membership. Among the motivating factors was the desire to initiate separate infotainment and navigation software development.

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With verve and full throttle towards the future. NDS is celebrating its birthday this autumn and has a lot planned for the years to come.
Image source: https://www.lifeofpix.com/photo/road-3/

Improved hardware performance does not necessarily require highly optimised data formats at bit level. Many also wished and still wish to open up the navigation business to non-software or hardware suppliers so that other sectors can equally benefit. Another concern is the merging of different map formats with NDS as the binding and mandatory map data format. Due to lower complexity, development costs should decrease, and go-to-market accelerate.

Many of these points have already been successfully implemented in recent years. But with so much still to do in terms of standardization for autonomous driving, Augmented Reality, and much more, we at NDS are looking forward to the next years to come.

We celebrate the fact that the NDS Association has grown from 15 founding members to now 42 member companies all supporting NDS as the worldwide standard for map data in automotive eco-systems. Map data in NDS is powering ADAS, navigation, and automated driving across more than 30 automotive brands around the world.

The 12th birthday is a nice occasion to reflect on the past, but also an incentive to develop new ideas, to win new members, and to further inspire the industry. With this in mind: All the best, NDS!

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