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“NDS members can accelerate innovation and reduce development costs”

28. May 2024

Dr. Martin Pfeifle (NNG)recently took over the baton as the new NDS Chairman from Martin Schleicher. In this interview, he talks about his plans for the new role, the trends and challenges he sees for the automotive future and how NDS membership can help companies and developers to be more innovative and effective.

Dr. Martin Pfeifle talks about his vision as the new Chairman of the NDS Association as well as trends and developments in the automotive sector.

Mr Pfeifle, you are the new NDS Chairman. Can you please explain your role and your aims for this position?

As the new Chairman of the NDS Association, my role involves overseeing the strategic direction of the organization, working to build consensus among its members, and representing the NDS Association in discussions with other industry consortia and organizations. The NDS Association focuses on the development and implementation of a global data standard for automotive-grade map data, which is essential for navigation, ADAS, and autonomous driving systems. My primary aim is to guide these efforts, ensuring that the standard evolves in response to industry needs and that it supports innovation and interoperability among stakeholders.

Can you briefly summarize what the main advantages of a NDS membership are in 2024 and onwards?

The main advantages of an NDS membership include access to comprehensive specifications, advanced tooling, dedicated support, and certification processes. While part of the NDS specification, such as NDS.Live, is publicly available for evaluation, membership provides additional benefits that are crucial for commercial use. Members gain access to the latest updates and enhancements, ensuring they stay at the forefront of technology. They also receive technical support and training from NDS experts, facilitating smoother implementation and integration. Moreover, members can participate in working groups, influencing the development of future standards, and ensuring their specific needs are addressed. This collaborative environment accelerates innovation, reduces development costs through shared efforts, and helps members achieve faster time-to-market with standardized, high-quality map services for navigation, ADAS, and autonomous driving systems.

In your opinion, why are the NDS Association and a common data standard so important for the industry?

A common data standard, like NDS, is crucial for the industry as it allows for consistent and reliable map data access across different platforms and geographies. This interoperability is key for the development of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving technologies, ensuring safety and efficiency. NDS.Classic, the original specification designed for embedded use in vehicles, enables incremental and over-the-air map updates and has been successfully deployed in millions of cars across over 40 automotive brands. This standard has provided a reliable physical storage format for over a decade.

However, as the industry undergoes a significant transformation with the increasing relevance of cloud and interface technologies, the next-generation standard, NDS.Live, becomes increasingly vital. Designed to standardize map service interfaces, NDS.Live facilitates cloud-stored maps that can be requested in real-time as needed and supports a spectrum of data freshness, from static information with long-term validity to more dynamic content that requires continual updates.
The NDS Association plays an important role in maintaining these standards, advocating for their adoption, and facilitating the sharing of knowledge and technologies among members.

What are new challenges for NDS and its members? How does NDS.Live help to overcome these challenges?

New challenges for NDS and its members include the need for highly detailed and nearly live map data to support driver assistance and automated driving functions, the transition of navigation from purely offline to hybrid/online systems, and the emergence of new use cases for map data. Additionally, the rapid pace of technological advancements, increasing data complexities, and higher expectations for real-time data processing pose significant challenges.

NDS.Live was designed from scratch to specifically address these evolving needs. It offers a robust framework for accessing map data, whether from a cloud service or stored inside the vehicle. This framework is built to handle the complexities and demands of emerging use cases for map data, ensuring that NDS members can deliver responsive and accurate navigation solutions. Through this innovative approach, NDS.Live enables its members to stay at the forefront of navigation and map data technology, adapting swiftly to the changing landscape of the automotive industry.

What are your plans for the future (regarding NDS Association and NDS.Live)?

Looking ahead, we plan to further enhance NDS.Live with capabilities to support more complex sensor integration and AI-driven functionalities. This will facilitate more advanced use cases, from infotainment to autonomous driving. We also aim to expand our membership to include more stakeholders from emerging markets and technology sectors, ensuring that NDS remains at the forefront of map data technology innovation.

Additionally, we plan to continue our collaboration with other industry consortia and organizations. This includes working with AUTOSAR to enable in-vehicle communication of map data with NDS.Live, collaborating with the CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium to support advanced V2X use cases with NDS.Live, and partnering with ASAM to facilitate the seamless integration of NDS.Live data in various automotive simulation environments. These collaborations will help us ensure that NDS.Live remains a versatile and comprehensive standard for the evolving needs of the automotive industry. 

In your opinion, what are the most important trends in the field of navigation?

The integration of generative AI in automotive digital assistants signifies a broader shift in the industry, enhancing the user experience by providing more intelligent, responsive, and context-aware interactions. This trend, combined with advancements in map data and real-time updates, positions the navigation field for significant innovation and growth in the coming years.

Another significant trend is the development and integration of navigation systems with Augmented Reality Heads-Up Displays (AR HUDs) in vehicles. AR HUDs are transforming windshields into interactive screens, presenting crucial guidance and safety alerts directly within the driver’s field of view. This technology not only enhances safety by minimizing distractions but also enriches the in-vehicle experience with advanced In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) capabilities. As navigation becomes more intertwined with real-time digital information overlaying the physical world, AR HUDs make the driving experience more intuitive and engaging.

What are your wishes for the future of the organization and how do you want to support these goals in your role as chairman?

My wish for the future of the NDS Association is to see broader adoption of our standards, transcending automotive to other mobility and logistic applications. I hope for a future where our efforts in standardization lead to safer, more efficient, and environmentally friendly navigation solutions worldwide. Additionally, I want the NDS Association to continue driving innovation and collaboration in the field of navigation and map development, enabling a more connected and sustainable future for mobility.

I aspire for our association to grow its membership and expand our reach, impacting the industry and society positively. As chairman, I will support these goals by fostering an environment of open innovation and collaboration, actively engaging with current and potential members from various sectors. I hope that the NDS Association continues to be a leader in the field of navigation and map data, shaping the future of mobility in a positive and sustainable way. Through strategic partnerships and ongoing dialogue with industry leaders, we can further our mission and help our standards evolve with the changing technological landscape.

Thank you very much for this interview!

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