Navigation systems: "The road structure is not being used intelligently"

Avoid congestion and find a parking space immediately - the developers of the app Nunav promise that just that. At a major event in Hamburg they want to prove that.


This Saturday threatens a traffic collapse in Hamburg. Andreas Gabalier plays in Volksparkstadion and Udo Lindenberg at the same time in the Barclaycard Arena. The ideal test scenario for the Nunav Navigation app. The system promises to use a kind of swarm intelligence to help users navigate traffic jams, construction sites and blockages directly to a free parking space. Behind this is the Hanoverian company Graphmasters, which already used the app for the port anniversary in Hamburg. Company spokesman Daniel Stolba explains how the software works.

ZEIT ONLINE: Mr. Stolba, you believe, on Saturday evening to be able to avoid the big traffic collapse. How do you want to create that?

Daniel Stolba: We have a huge problem with navigation apps causing more congestion by recommending similar routes to all users. All of them eventually arrive on the same street. Then the Navis offer an evasive route on which also quickly congestion arises. The road structure is utilized as not intelligently. Our app is based on Collaborative Routing, which means all vehicles are organized as part of a warm environment. We predict beforehand which road will have which capacity, and then intelligently distribute the cars over several routes in the road network.

ZEIT ONLINE: You also work together with traffic authorities, how does it work?

Stolba: We get data from the authorities about construction sites or road closures and feed them into our system. That's what we did, for example, at the harbor birthday party. Not only did the city not want to avoid traffic jams, but it also wanted to prevent all vehicles from getting on the side roads. That's why we only used the main roads for our navigation. In the software, we can virtually block roads or take them out altogether. The driver does not notice this technology.

ZEIT ONLINE: How does it work on Saturday at the concerts of Andreas Gabalier and Udo Lindenberg?

Stolba: We work directly with the organizer. In advance, for example, it is exactly defined which parking spaces should be used. The system notices when the parking lots are getting crowded or the organizer locks them off automatically. The app then directs you to a free seat automatically. So not all run around forever and search or discuss with the parking attendant, whether sienicht still fit into it. Actually, you just want to arrive and have fun.

Daniel Stolba from the company Graphmasters wants to help with the app Nunav to avoid traffic jams. © Graphmasters

ZEIT ONLINE: The app is still in beta in Hamburg. Did you test that in advance?

Stolba: We tested the fair in Hanover for 18 months. Now our software in Hannover is used for the digital traffic management, promoted by the Ministry of Economics of Lower Saxony. At the Helene Fischer Concert 2018 in Hanover about twelve to 13 percent of the visitors used our app. The analysis has shown that the Nunav users have arrived significantly smoother, others are in traffic jams. At the world's largest agricultural fair, with two percent of the visitors who used our app, we were able to increase the traffic flow by 18 percent.

TIME ONLINE: In a test also usually errors occur. Where is it still stuck?

Stolba: A big challenge is still construction sites and spontaneous closures. For the app to work properly, we need a very large amount of data. What the system does not know, it can not predict. The Hamburg Transport Authority has already provided a large part of the planned construction sites digitally, and the police are giving us road closures. Without such cooperations, we would not be able to navigate to events and free parking.

ZEIT ONLINE: If the test runs well on Saturday, then further cooperation is planned?

Stolba: With the HSV there is already the intention to test a football match in the next season. In addition, the city would have to commission us then.

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ZEIT ONLINE: Your app is free and free, how do you finance?

Stolba: The software is also used by logistics customers. For Hermes we have developed our own app. We plan their routes, which saves time and CO2. Or we are asked by cities to regulate their traffic digitally.

ZEIT ONLINE: How many users are already in Hamburg?

Stolba: Since we have high privacy standards, we know nothing about our users. But the active use of our app in Hamburg is steadily increasing. In the world record attempt in cross-linked driving to the port birthday, there were at times up to 3,000 trips simultaneously. Considering that cars stand around 23 hours a day in the cut, that's pretty much. And the more people who drive with Nunav, the better it gets.

ref: zeit