TomTom finds new place in self driving cars

indian-driverless-carWith the rise of Google, mobiles and tablets, Dutch map making machine TomTom has been looking a bit like a dinosaur on its way for a picnic at the local tar pit.

Now it seems that it is pinning its hopes on self-driving cars.

Chief executive Harold Goddijn said that an overhaul of TomTom’s digital mapping architecture lies behind a renaissance that has seen its automotive division win big contracts in recent months, prompting analyst upgrades and a 40 percent surge in its shares.

Carmakers think that TomTom is one of the few companies besides Google capable of providing location data good enough and fast enough to meet the safety requirements for computer assisted driving and self-driving cars.

TomTom went into a tailspin after overpaying for digital map-maker TeleAtlas in 2008. The market personal navigation devices tanked, just cheaper competitors entered an increasingly saturated market for dashboard-mounted GPS systems. Then smartphone navigation apps offered an even cheaper substitute.

TomTom has deals with Volkswagen, Fiat, Hyundai and Kia.

TomTom has also made money on consumer products such as fitness watches and a line of ‘GoPro’-style action cameras launched this week. It is also the mapping behind the iPhone 6.

The company’s maps can now be redrawn on the fly, integrating feedback from cars on the road, and then shared immediately with other drivers.