Meet the Navteq laser equipped car that makes maps

When strolling through the GPS and navigation section of the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, I came across a Volkswagen Jetta with a rather large piece of equipment sticking out its backside. The equipment is part of the new NAVTEQ True mapping system, and is what helps us get more reliable maps, maps with street view images and 3D building renderings.

Inside the (not factory installed) accessory, is a LIDAR system with 64 lasers, a variety of high resolution cameras and of course a whole assortment of GPS receivers. The car drives around, collecting up to 1.5 million pieces of data every second. The end result is more reliable maps, better quality street images, and 3D building data.

An example of a site using the 3D building data is the Nokia Ovi Maps service – these buildings are exact 3D replicas of the actual hotels on the Las Vegas strip. As GPS units become more powerful (and storage gets cheaper), we should start seeing 3D images and street view photo make our way onto portable devices – without the need for a data connection.

Of course, with the news of Nokia offering free lifetime turn-by-turn navigation on all its smartphones, getting access to more reliable maps is a very nice bonus (Nokia owns Navteq). So, next time you see a Volkswagen drive down your street with what looks like a rocket sticking out its rear end, smile!

Nokia brings lifetime free turn-by-turn navigation and Lonely Planet guides to its smartphone lineup

Just last week, I wrote about the Nokia Ovi map service – and today, Nokia gave me one more reason to be impressed. As of today, the Nokia turn-by-turn navigation service will be available for free to all Nokia Smartphone owners.

There are one or two exceptions, but if you have a current generation Nokia device, you can leave your GPS unit at home.

Nokia is not the first to offer free navigation, Google announced it as a beta service in their maps application on Android devices, but unlike the Google offering, the Nokia navigation app does not require a data connection as all maps are stored locally.

It gets even better – because Nokia is also offering free Lonely Planet guides, free Michellin guides, free events guides and more. All this content used to be “premium”, but is now free as an add-on to the map application. And best of all – the maps, and all map updates will be free forever.

Next week, we’ll will bring you a full review of the free Nokia navigation application on their popular 5800 Navigation Edition smartphone. If you can’t wait – head on over to our friends at Engadget for their hands-on with the new free navigation app.