Smartnav has been developed by Trafficmaster and can be retrofitted to any vehicle, although the company is also seeking to convince vehicle manufacturers to fit the system as standard to new cars and vans.
Trafficmaster claims the system has considerable advantages over traditional satellite navigation systems thanks to its ability to factor historic and current traffic conditions into route plans.
Drivers simply push a button in the car and connect immediately with a call centre operator – described by Trafficmaster as a 'personal assistant' – who fields direction enquiries and then sends the route guidance directly to a car's on-board computer.
An on-board GPS system locates the car, while directions are calculated from a central server which avoids the cost of an on-board CD-player and CD-map, and enables the system to factor traffic conditions into the route.
Directions are broadcast through the car's stereo speakers, and if the driver diverts from the pre-planned route the system automatically calculates a new route.
The Smartnav PA can also connect drivers to breakdown and recovery services, identifying precisely the location of the vehicle, and offers a range of concierge services that allow drivers to order, for example, flowers from the car.
Smartnav costs £499 (inc VAT), plus an installation charge, with an annual subscription charge of £120 – or £350 for four years. The equipment is transferable from one vehicle to another.