The MG Hector is still a few weeks away from hitting the market but the SAIC-owned brand has taken the wraps off the car's connectivity and IT services. In a bid to offer a first-in-segment connected car, the MG Hector sees the company bring several big names in IT and services together to create its i-smart platform. Besides Microsoft, Cisco, Nuance et al, there is also the world's leading name in navigation systems - TomTom. And a unique offering from the Netherlands based player is an immediate area-only self-updating new navigation system called IQ Maps. Speaking carandbike Tsjerk-Friso Roelfzema, VP Automotive - Europe & Asia, TomTom said, "You don't have to do anything, plug in a new CD or DVD, a USB, or go to a dealer. It's automatically updated in the background, and not just only automatically updated, but only what is relevant to the driver. So we are here in Delhi today, you don't want to have the updates of your map let's say in Pune, it's not relevant. So we update what is relevant to you."
The IQ Maps idea is simple. The car will have embedded maps for the whole country as is. But these maps get outdated quickly; especially in a country like India here our road systems are constantly undergoing detours or changes due to fresh construction or improvements in infrastructure. IQ Maps helps the car to provide you with updated and current maps, without worrying about those kinds of changes. And yes the system is in-dash - and will work through the big 10.4" screen on MG's i-smart unit.
It also gives you real-time traffic updates, and will reroute your guidance if there is a traffic jam for instance. It also takes into account any last minute road closures or other changes like say, construction activity. The map is updated accordingly, and is fed with a combination of live and historical data inputs to achieve its levels of accuracy. This has been made possible not just because of the innovation at TomTom's research centres in Europe and also in Pune, India.
Of course the enabler here is also the vehicle itself, which would have to provide connectivity, since this is an in-car navigation system and not an external device or phone app. And that connectivity on the MG Hector will come courtesy the embedded eSim card the car will have from the start. This in turn will provide data services to not just update maps and conduct live searches for destinations or points of interest, but also stream music, browse the net or access your email. The eSim will also be the way to contact MG's call centre where a concierge service can hep you find destinations, or more importantly provide first response in the case of an emergency. And the good news is MG has said the data plan for the buyer if the car will be free.
Also Read: MG Hector: Top Five Things You Need To Know
TomTom plans to develop the product further both in terms of offering even more layers of sophistication, and also see if it can be offered in standalone navigation devices or as a phone app. But there is another potential area where it could be even more relevant. Roelfzema says, "It is very important today in normal navigation, but especially when you talk about autonomous driving, you really want to know if the road has changed if your car is driving itself. And that's really important. We need to see when the rest is following, but it is a very exciting moment also for us."