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Working Groups: Shaping the future of NDS

18. May 2020

NDS is THE map data standard for the automotive industry, by the automotive industry. We believe that the industry needs to work together and share data to offer customers the best technology possible, be it for navigation, automated driving or mobile companion apps.  With this aspiration in mind, a wide variety of automotive and navigation companies, from OEMs to suppliers and systems developers, jointly develop NDS, and their numbers are constantly growing. And this goes without saying: NDS isn’t static – it is evolving with new technologies and use cases for map data. But how do we make sure every stakeholder is involved?

The advancement of the format specification is driven and executed by technical working groups. The NDS association has three working groups in which system architects, developers and map experts from different NDS members and from all around the globe join forces to further develop the NDS data specification. To complement these technical groups, the NDS Association set up a Product Definition Group (PDG), which defines the strategic roadmap for NDS based on long-term market developments.

Over the years an active community has shaped an open-minded and agile culture of cooperation, which has helped new members in the onboarding process to the NDS format as well as maintaining stability and matureness in the evolution of NDS. Taking up the requirements from the roadmap of the PDG as well as directly tackling commercial project issues reported by the members, the working groups advance the NDS map standard in a hands-on manner. Participation in the working groups is voluntary, but of course highly encouraged: It allows NDS members to actively shape the evolvement of the standard and focus on the aspect of NDS that is most relevant to their business. 

During the meetings it’s blood, sweat and tears… at the evening events it’s fun, friends and beers.

A veteran working group member

Ever since the beginnings of the NDS Association, Working Group 1 (WG1) has covered features of the classic embedded infotainment map. Besides setting up the development processes and change control mechanisms, it has established the monitoring of the NDS Association’s internal set of tools development that every member company gets access to.

In 2014, Working Group 3 had been established to drive the inclusion of an HD map format specification into NDS to cover digital map needs for autonomous driving. Two years later, the first HD map standard was released. Since then the WG3 is actively evolving all HD-maps-related parts in NDS, as well as all topics with regards to functional safety for maps.

The most recently installed working group is WG5, covering the next generation architecture of NDS.Live, which will pave the way for a truly distributed map system via online services.

NDS working groups
NDS Working Group 3 meeting in Beijing, 2019
Image source: NDS/Fabian Klebert

“The active members of the NDS Working Groups form a powerful community that has demonstrated the capability to integrate and standardize new functionality within short time. The time-to-standard of NDS is unmatched compared to other industry or international standard organizations in the digital maps industry”, says Fabian Klebert of Klebert Engineering, who has been the NDS Technical Lead and Coordinator of the NDS Working Groups for nearly a decade. “I’m proud to head a global group of experts with an open source community spirit that drives innovation rather than trying to only push their own agenda.”

A key element of the transformation from competitors and rivals to collaborative colleagues is a frequent exchange among the members in five to eight face-to-face meetings per working group and year, in addition to weekly online meetings, where the work continues. Since 2019, the NDS Association has focused more on extensive online meetings and has been working continuously on improving the online meeting experience to decrease worldwide travel in their support of the fight against climate change.

“Face-to-face meetings are still an invaluable part of the NDS community, but whether it is the coronavirus or climate change, we cannot ignore the need to have a well working online meeting culture as well”, says Fabian Klebert. Change and innovation have always been the motor of success within the NDS Association.

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