Technology | Wed May 16, 2007 4:53pm BST

Next on satnav: 3-D city views and road warnings

PARIS (Reuters) - Three-dimensional views of city streets and warnings of dangerous turns ahead will feature on the next generation of satellite navigation systems, the chief executive of digital map supplier Tele Atlas TA.AS said.

Once only an expensive option for luxury cars, navigation systems have surged in popularity in recent years and the technology is now making the jump into mobile phones.

Pedestrians will soon use such systems to find out whether to take a cab or the subway, and when the next bus or train is set to leave the station, Alain De Taeye told the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in Paris on Wednesday.

Tele Atlas is already gathering relevant data through vehicles it uses for mapping. Equipped with six cameras, they capture both a road and its surroundings.

"You end up with a video database of the whole world the way it is in 3D," De Taeye said.

"The technology is fully developed ... and we're launching 50 cities in Europe this year. If you take a cab in Japan you already see it live on the in-car navigation system."

Tele Atlas is also extending its maps to incorporate public transport options such as buses and subways as well as data on pedestrian shortcuts that cars cannot take.

"If you combine it with traffic data, you can calculate whether you should take your own car, a cab, or the metro," De Taeye said, adding the company had such a prototype system for Paris.

Car makers, whose navigation suppliers have been overtaken in sales volume by makers of portable systems such as TomTom (TOM2.AS) and Garmin (GRMN.O), will push advanced features to get back into the game, De Taeye said.

"There will be plenty of extra features, curve warning systems for example," he said.

"It is unacceptable that we still allow people to crash their car in a hairpin going 120 kilometers an hour. The car knows that it's driving 120 kilometers an hour, the hairpin is mapped and is known by the navigation system."