iGo, You Go

A global navigation provider based in Birmingham taps the domestic auto industry.


 Remember the days when a simple road map or a gas station attendant were the only ways to get directions to a hard-to-find address? Over the last five years, in-vehicle navigation systems and smartphones have revolutionized wayfinding, but they have their shortcomings.

Colored, linear maps that appear on a screen vastly improve navigation in most situations, but dense street-grid patterns or buildings set off from a road or an alley can still be difficult to find. That will soon improve as NNG, a navigation software provider to the global automotive industry, adds images of actual buildings on a dashboard or a smartphone screen.

“You can literally be driving along Jefferson Avenue in downtown Detroit and a very lifelike image of the Renaissance Center will be displayed on your screen,” says Jim Robnett, vice president of automotive OEM relations at NNG, which recently established its Office of the Americas in Birmingham. “All the other surrounding buildings and infrastructure appear, as well. It’s almost like you’re driving in a virtual reality movie.”

The company, which has its headquarters in Budapest, Hungary, got its start in 2005 by developing software for the gaming industry. The firm, which today has 1,000 employees, quickly saw an opportunity to provide global automakers with digital mapping services. The so-called white label navigation system, dubbed iGO, allows NNG to sell its services to several different automakers.

“Basically, the backend software system can be used on any (new) vehicle, and then we modify it to fit a particular automaker’s navigation system,” says Robnett, former director of Chrysler Group’s in-vehicle phone, mapping, and infotainment offering, called Uconnect. “We’re still 10 years away from a critical mass of autonomous vehicles, and iGO is designed to help get us there.”

The Tier 2 auto supplier works with more than 30 brands, including General Motors, Chrysler, Fiat, Ferrari, Porsche, and BMW. “Our platform is available on luxury cars, sedans, SUVs, even small cars,” he says.

The company’s office in Birmingham, located in a former post office, will have 15 employees in 2016, up from eight workers today, Robnett says. The company has 10 offices around the world, including sites in Europe, Israel, Japan, and Great Britain.

“For a specific market like Japan, we hire local experts because they need to be on the ground, so to speak, to understand the infrastructure, the roads, the traffic, and what the preferred user experience is,” he says. “We want to know the best way people communicate with their navigation system. Is it by voice, touch, dials, or tumblers?”

As the system progresses, elements such as current traffic and weather conditions will be factored into a planned route. Speed warning and lane warning alerts will also appear. “It’s a robust system that’s only going to get better,” Robnett says. db


Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Higher Support

More and more companies and businesses are supporting employees in their efforts to receive higher education.

Chocolate Collateral

A cuisine team from Redford Township converges on cocoa.

Parts Air

Ford Motor Co. utilized a massive Antonov AN-124-100 aircraft to ensure the delivery of a 87,000-pound die.

Lip Service

Aspiring beauty mogul Adonai Alexander is our Young CEO of the Year.

Virtual Clouds

Data centers benefit from the region’s stable environment and market access.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Wayne State’s Graduate Supply Chain Program Ranked Among Top 25 in the Country
    Wayne State University’s graduate global supply chain management program is among the...
  2. The Corner Apartment and Retail Project at Old Tiger Stadium Site in Detroit to be Completed in February
    The former Tiger Stadium site in Detroit received the city’s first modular home drop today as...
  3. Belle Isle Conservatory to See Almost $2M in Renovations
    The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Thursday announced the Anna Scripps Whitcomb...
  4. Wayne State University in Detroit Opens $2M Athletic Performance Center
    Wayne State University in Detroit has announced the opening of its updated Athletic Performance...
  5. Universal McCann Will Open Office in Downtown Detroit to Oversee Quicken Loans’ Media Planning and Buying
    Detroit-based Quicken Loans Inc. today announced a long-term agreement with Universal McCann (UM)...
  6. Bloomfield Hills’ Center Rock Capital Partners Acquire American Piping Products
    Center Rock Capital Partners LP in Bloomfield Hills today announced it has acquired American...