BMW and the city of Duesseldorf are trying to reduce traffic congestion through the use of intelligent navigation systems and different traffic management.

The German premium-car maker is fully aware that the use of in-car navigation systems can actually increase traffic congestion in major metropolitan areas. That is because drivers, using navigation to avoid a bottleneck, often end up on smaller roads with less traffic capacity.

In a survey of 1,000 German cities, the ADAC, Germany’s largest automobile club, found that every second city had concluded that congestion had increased in the past decade as use of navigation systems grew.

BMW is now piloting a “networked navigation” approach to cut down on this type of traffic congestion. Cities themselves know best which roads are most suited to bypass a highway bottleneck.  This information needs to be entered into navigation systems

“By knowing where traffic lights have been changed, which stretches of road are overused, where major events are blocking roads or where construction is planned, we can offer a driver the optimal routing,” said Tim Lange, project engineer in BMW’s traffic technology and management department.

Pilot projects are underway in Duesseldorf and Munich and many other cities are cooperating. But communities provide different data in different formats. Hence, a unified data format needs to be created for this information.

The networked-navigation project needs standardized interfaces and protocols, but it also requires the real-time transmission of alternative routing concepts. And it needs a way to check the quality of the recommended alternative routes. In addition, new strategic routing needs to take into account historical drive-time data.

Adaptive navigation provides three arrival-time scenarios: a typical one, an optimistic one and a pessimistic one. The driver gets all of these, including a margin of error of about 10 percent.

If BMW’s project comes to fruition, drivers will get to their destinations faster, communities will see less traffic congestion and car-related CO2 emissions will drop.

But before that happens, some time will pass. BMW expects it will take many years before its new navigation is ready for production