Patent application title: MAP CORRECTIONS VIA HUMAN MACHINE INTERFACE
Achim Huth (Hannover, DE)
IPC8 Class: AG01C2126FI
Publication date: 2012-12-13
Patent application number: 20120316780
A method is provided for user input of map corrections via voice
controlled human machine interface (HMI). A navigation device (20) is
voice control enabled to respond to a defined set of commands. The
navigation device (20) further includes display screen shot
functionality, together with a camera (28) for taking real-world
snapshots and/or recording video segments. Using voice control, a driver
can make map update corrections (32) which are associated with a screen
shot (34) of the display screen (22) of the navigation device (20),
together with the captured image (36) from the camera (28). This
information, together with optional additional meta information, may be
transmitted to a collection service or update center.
1. A method for reporting perceived errors in a digital map in real time
by the user of a mobile navigation device, said method comprising the
steps of: providing a digital road map having a representation of a road
network corresponding to roads in reality; providing a mobile navigation
device interactive with the digital map, the navigation device capable of
determining its instantaneous geo-position in the digital road network
relative to a road in reality; the navigation device including a display
screen and being linked to a camera, the camera configured to capture at
least one image of a surrounding road in reality; the navigation device
including a processor capable of executing an error report program
wherein perceived errors in the digital map are noted for submission to
an update center; transporting the navigation device along a road in
reality while simultaneously updating its corresponding geo-position in
the digital road network; encountering a perceived error in the digital
map; executing the error report program in the navigation device; said
executing step including recording a screen shot of the display screen;
said executing step further including capturing a road image of the
surrounding road in reality with the camera; and associating the screen
shot and the road image with the corresponding instantaneous geo-position
of the navigation device.
2. The method of claim 1 further including transmitting the recorded a screen shot and captured road image to an update center.
3. The method according to claim 1 wherein said step of capturing a road image includes taking a generally forward looking image.
4. The method according to claim 1 wherein said step of capturing a road image includes taking a motion video of the surrounding road in reality.
5. The method according to claim 1 wherein said step of encountering a perceived error includes identifying a situation in reality that does not correspond to information contained in the digital map.
6. The method according to claim 1 wherein said executing step includes responding to a human voice activated command.
7. The method according to claim 1 wherein said executing step includes capturing a sound recording to store additional information.
8. The method according to claim 1 wherein said associating step further includes associating the screen shot and the road image (36) with the traveling direction of the navigation device.
9. The method according to claim 1 wherein said associating step further includes associating the screen shot and the road image with a corresponding time stamp.
10. The method according to claim 1 wherein said associating step further includes associating the screen shot and the road image with a unique Identifier (ID).
11. The method according to claim 1 wherein said associating step further includes associating the screen shot and the road image with the street name or number on which the navigation device is traveling.
12. The method according to claim 1 wherein said step of capturing a road image includes affirmatively verifying the captured image by a method of human interaction.
13. A method for reporting perceived errors in a digital map in real time by the user of a mobile navigation device, said method comprising the steps of: providing a digital road map having a representation of a road network corresponding to roads in reality; providing a mobile navigation device interactive with the digital map, the navigation device capable of determining its instantaneous geo-position in the digital road network relative to a road in reality; the navigation device including a display screen and being linked to a camera, the camera configured to capture at least one generally forward looking image of a surrounding road in reality; the navigation device capable of executing an error report program wherein perceived errors in the digital map are noted for submission to an update center; transporting the navigation device along a road in reality while simultaneously updating its corresponding geo-position in the digital road network; encountering a perceived error in the digital map caused by a non-corresponding situation in reality compared to information contained in the digital map; executing the error report program in the navigation device by voice activated command; said executing step including recording a screen shot of the display screen; said executing step further including capturing a road image of the surrounding road in reality with the camera; creating an error report comprising correction information at least in part by voice activated commands; associating the screen shot and the road image with the corresponding instantaneous geo-position of the navigation device; and transmitting map correction information along with the recorded a screen shot and captured road image to an update center.
14. A navigation device configured to implement the method according to claim 1.
15. A navigation device configured to implement the method according to claim 13.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
 This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/257,873 filed 4 Nov. 2009, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference and relied upon.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 1. Field of the Invention
 This invention relates to navigation devices of the type used by motorists and travelers, and more particularly toward an improved method for submitting map corrections to a database update center.
 2. Related Art
 Navigation devices like that shown for example at 10 in FIG. 1 utilize internally stored digital maps combined with accurate positioning data transmitted from a constellation of satellites or other data streams in order to locate the navigation device within the digital map relative to the surrounding reality. Such GPS-enabled navigation devices may include portable, personal units such as those manufactured by TomTom NV (www.tomtom.com), as well as those which are integrated into an automobile instrument system, or other handheld devices, mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and the like. These devices have been developed for many land navigation applications. Typically, the navigation system 10 includes a display screen 12 that portrays a portion of a stored digital map as a network of roads 14 and possibly other features such as directional signs, nearby landmarks, lane indicators, etc. A traveler having access to such a navigation device 10 is generally located on the digital map close to or with regard to a particular road 14.
 The effectiveness of such navigation systems 10 is inherently dependent upon accurately and quickly matching the actual, real-world location of the navigation device (i.e., its geo-position) to a corresponding portion of the digital map. Navigation and routing assistance is accomplished by executing appropriate computer programs and costing algorithms to plot a course to some desired destination. If the digital map contains inaccurate data, such routing programs can yield an incorrect result. For example, if a particular road is closed for repairs and this fact is not known in the digital map, a routing program may incorrectly recommend a route that includes the closed road segment.
 It is known to collect the observations and experiences of drivers who have recently driven a particular road segment as so-called "community input." Community input may include information collected from millions of navigation device 10 users around the globe. Such community input is used to identify possible map corrections and enhancements, validate map data collected from traditional sources, and to create a real-time record of driver behavior and results. Many in the industry consider community input to be a fresh and accurate source of information on current road configurations and conditions identifying changing route conditions, new points of interest (POIs) and addresses, as well as traffic conditions and the like. A proprietary program available from TomTom NV known as Map Share® allows willing navigation device 10 users to submit information that helps quickly identify and validate changes in road direction, new POIs and exact address locations, among other uses. An example of the Map Share® screen interface is shown, for example, in FIG. 2 wherein an icon identified as "Map Corrections" is activated by a user's touch on a touch-screen 12 enabled device 10. This human machine interaction prompts the navigation device 10 to display the screen view shown in FIG. 3A with six possible selections: (Un)block street; Reverse traffic direction; Edit street name; Change turn restrictions; Change road speed; and [Next page arrow]. Activating the next page arrow icon reveals the screen shot image shown in FIG. 3B which includes three additional update types: Add missing POI; Edit POI; and Report other error. These are mentioned as common examples of type of map corrections that can be made by a user for updating their own navigation device 10, and possibly submitted also to an update center as community input.
 In a real life driving situation, accessing the map corrections feature can be inconvenient for a driver, unless a co-driver is available to assist. FIG. 4 shows an exemplary screen shot such as may appear on the display screen 12 while traveling a particular road segment. As shown in the lower right corner of the display screen 12, a speed indication is given at 16. In this example, the speed indication "85/90" identifies a current traveling speed of 85 km/h and a current indicated road speed limit of 90 km/h. In other words, in this particular case, the driver is informed by his/her navigation device 10 that they are currently traveling 5 km/h under the local speed limit. The 90 km/h speed limit provided in the display screen 12 is derived from an attribute associated in the digital map with the road link upon which the navigation device 10 is currently mapped to. If, in this example, the driver passes a road speed sign that indicates the local current speed limit is, in fact, 70 km/h, the driver may wish to enter a map correction by accessing the display screen feature shown in FIG. 2. This will reveal the screen as shown in FIG. 5, upon which the user taps the screen position associated with the "Change road speed" icon. This, in turn, causes the navigation device 10 to display the screen as shown in FIG. 6, where the correct road speed limit can be entered. As shown by the numerous touch positions, the user must enter the numbers 7-0 followed by tapping the "Done" button. As will be appreciated, this is a little bit complex operation for a driver to perform unaided and may be considered by some to be avoided when driving without a co-driver able to assist. Therefore, a driver may decide to wait until some time in the future when it is more convenient to enter the map correction. However, delaying the map correction is likely to result in forgetting to enter the map correction, or entering the map correction along the wrong geo-position or road segment or other mistake in data.
 Therefore, there is a need to provide a method for user input of map corrections via a convenient human machine interface technique with minimal distractions.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 This invention provides a real time method for reporting perceived errors in a digital map by the user of a mobile navigation device. According to this method, a digital road map is provided having a representation of a road network corresponding to roads in reality. A mobile navigation device is provided which is interactive with the digital map. The navigation device is capable of determining its instantaneous geo-position in the digital road network relative to a road in reality. The navigation device includes a display screen and a camera. The camera is configured to capture at least one image of a surrounding road in reality. The navigation device includes a processor capable of executing an error report program so that perceived errors in the digital map can be entered into the device memory and also possibly noted for submission to an update center. According to this method, the navigation device is transported along a road in reality while its corresponding geo-position is updated in the digital road network. Upon encountering a perceived error in the digital map, the error report program is executed in the navigation device. Simultaneously with the executing step, a screen shot of the display screen is recorded together with a road image of the surrounding road being captured with the camera. Both the screen shot and the road image are then associated with the corresponding instantaneous geo-position of the navigation device. As a result, the reported error will include corroborating screen shot and road information imprinted with the current geo-position of the navigation device at the time the error report is executed.
 The method of this invention provides a convenient process for a user to input map corrections in real time with minimal distraction, without the need for a co-driver, and which can be more reliably assessed by map database editors at an update center. In other words, the method of this invention both optimizes and simplifies the map correction process using a navigation device via convenient human machine interface techniques.
 The invention also contemplates a navigation device configured to implement the method as described.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 These and other features and advantages of the present invention will become more readily appreciated when considered in connection with the following detailed description and appended drawings, wherein:
 FIG. 1 is an exemplary view of a compact, portable navigation device according to the prior art including a display screen for presenting map data information;
 FIG. 2 is an exemplary view of the prior art navigation device showing the menu interface through which, according to prior art techniques, human machine interface (HMI) is accomplished by manually touching an icon presented on a touch-sensitive display screen;
 FIGS. 3A and 3B represent successive screen displays on the prior art navigation device offering various map correction options which a user can access to report different kinds of map errors;
 FIG. 4 is an exemplary screen display from a prior art navigation device wherein speed indications are provided in the lower right-hand corner in this example which indicate the current driving speed and the presumed speed limit upon the particular road segment being traveled in real time;
 FIG. 5 is a view of a display screen as in FIG. 3A, and indicating the HMI interaction required to execute an error reporting program in a prior art navigation device;
 FIG. 6 is an exemplary screen display of a prior art navigation device wherein the touch-sensitive display screen must be tapped four times successively in different regions of the screen in order to input a speed correction of 70 km/h in this example;
 FIG. 7 is a simplified perspective view of a navigation device according to this invention mounted for use in a motor vehicle;
 FIG. 8 is a simplified flow chart describing the basic method steps used to input a map correction in the example of a speed correction according to this invention;
 FIG. 9 is a fragmentary perspective view of a navigation device according to the subject invention operatively disposed within a motor vehicle traveling along a road segment at a point in time when a driver uses voice control enabled features of this invention to enter a map correction, while a camera associated with the navigation device captures an image of the road segment in a forward looking direction;
 FIG. 10 is a simplified illustrative view describing alternative methods by which perceived errors in the digital map can be reported to an update center, which reports include map correction data, a screen shot captured when the error report program is executed, and a road image captured when the error report program is executed; and
 FIG. 11 is a detailed flow chart describing one preferred implementation of the subject invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
 Referring to the figures wherein like numerals indicate like or corresponding parts throughout the several views, a personal navigation device 20 is shown in FIG. 7 having a display screen 22 representing a portion of a digital map containing road segments 14 as previously described in connection with FIGS. 1-6. The navigation device 20 may be an in-dash system in a motor vehicle, as well as any personal, portable or handheld device appropriately enabled with position determining features including cell phones, PDAs, and the like. The invention is particularly adapted for land-based navigation applications, although those of skill in the art will perceive application opportunities in connection with marine and/or aviation navigation settings.
 It is well known that roadway interchanges and other road features change over time. For example, a particular roadway may undergo construction, expansion, or closure. In addition to changes in roadways, roadway attributes may change or be entered incorrectly in a digital map such as, for example, speed limits, elevations and vehicle classes. Likewise, other information contained in a digital map may be inaccurate or become inaccurate over time. These may include local points of interest (POIs), landmarks, addresses, and such. The use of community input to flag errors or perceived errors in a digital map has proven to be an effective tool in maintaining accurate digital maps. As stated previously, the Map Share® service offered by TomTom NV to its navigation device users allows map corrections and perceived errors to be recorded directly upon a navigation device and then optionally shared with other navigation device users through TomTom's proprietary HOME software. If the user chooses to participate in the Map Share® program, the map corrections are shared with other users and maps are automatically updated each time the navigation device is docked with a computer linked to the internet and/or through wireless transmission if the navigation device 20 is equipped with wireless (e.g., cellular) technology. Examples of map corrections include, for example, adding or removing roadblocks, marking a one way street, changing street names, updating turn restrictions, and updating speed limit information.
 FIG. 7 shows the navigation device 20 disposed for operation in a motor vehicle. A suction cup support arm 24 removably anchors the navigation device 20 to the inside surface of a windscreen 26 in the motor vehicle, as one exemplary mounting configuration. Alternatively, as described above, the navigation device 20 may be integrated into the vehicle instrument panel (not shown) or may be operated through a personal handheld device like a cell phone or PDA. Other embodiments may also exist.
 The navigation device 20 includes a camera 28 shown here integrally affixed to the body of the navigation device 20 opposite the display screen 22. In this configuration, the camera 28 is capable of taking a still picture, a successive series of still pictures, or motion video capture in a forward looking direction of the motor vehicle in which the device 20 is transported. In alternative embodiments (not shown), the camera 28 may be disassociated from the body of the navigation device 20 such as a standalone camera device which may be mounted to the rearview mirror, on the dashboard, or in some other convenient location. Multiple and/or wide angle lenses may be employed. The camera 28 may be linked to the navigation device 20 via wire or wireless interface in cases where it is not integral with the device housing. The navigation device 20 also includes a microphone (not shown) or some other sound sensitive feature capable of receiving human voice commands. A processor disposed within the navigation device 20 and interactive with stored memory is capable of executing a preprogrammed error report program.
 Taking the example described above in connection with FIG. 4, when a driver traveling along a roadway discovers that the actual current speed limit is 70 km/h rather than 90 km/h, a human voice activated correction can be carried out using the methods of this invention. For example, the user may speak the works "Map correction" as shown in FIG. 8. Through the microphone contained in the navigation device 20, in combination with the processor and embedded software contained in the navigation device 20, recognition of the spoken words "Map correction" activates the map correction functionality in the navigation device 20, and also activates screen shot functionality and camera 28 functionality. Thus, all of these systems are activated automatically when (or shortly after) the device user encounters a perceived error in the digital map and initiates the error report program by speaking the predetermined command words "Map correction." Of course, other command or trigger terminology can be designated in any programmed language. In an alternative embodiment of this invention, the same features can be activated by touch screen interaction as described above in connection with FIGS. 5 and 6.
 Returning to the preferred embodiment of this invention, once the map correction, screen shot and camera functionalities have been activated by the user voice command "Map correction," the user speaks another command indicating which specific type of correction is to be made. The selection of corrections may correspond, generally, to the selections available on the prior art touch screen 12 as shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B. These selections can include "Change road speed" as shown in FIGS. 3A and 5. In this example, the user speaks the command "Correct speed" which has the effect of selecting the related road element the vehicle is driving on at that moment, takes a screen shot of the display screen 22 along with a generally simultaneous image capture taken by the camera 28. The image capture may be either a still image, several successive still images, or a short video clip. After the user has indicated the type of map correction to be addressed, the user speaks the words "Seventy" or "Seven-Null" or ("Seven-Zero", etc.) to indicate that the correct speed of this particular road segment is in fact 70 km/h. This results in a correction of the corresponding attribute for this road segment in the digital map contained in or accessed by the navigation device 20. For this particular road segment, the road speed attribute is now set at 70 km/h. The screen shot is stored, together with meta information such as the geo-position of the device 20, a time stamp, and possibly other details, either in internal memory contained within the device 20 or on an external disc or memory device (not shown). Likewise, the still picture(s) or video are also stored either on the device 20 or using a suitable external memory device. The command "Stop" or other appropriate term is used to deactivate the previously activated functionalities and end the correction process. FIG. 9 illustrates the processes that may occur in real life within the context of the preceding example. It can be appreciated that the spoken voice commands which may be spoken by a driver with very little distraction to driving and at great convenience will result in not only a correction of the digital map on the device 20 itself, but also the capture of corroborating screen image 22 and forward looking road data images via the camera 28.
 In addition to the aforementioned screen shot and image taken by the camera 28, other details can be captured as part of the map correction process according to this invention. As one example, program functionality may include the activation of a sound recording device or feature through which the user may provide a verbal description of the situation. Additional meta information may include identification of the traveling direction of the navigation device 20. For example, if the vehicle carrying the navigation device 20 is traveling on a two-way street, the particular travel direction can be indicated by association with the other recorded details. A time stamp, i.e., the specific time that the map correction program is executed, may be imprinted or otherwise associated with the screen shot and road image information. Other meta information may include the assignment of a unique identifier (ID) with each map correction request. For example, the first map correction request executed by a user of the navigation device 20 may include the identifier "00001." The next map correction request may include the assignment of the identifier "00002," and so forth. Furthermore, it may be desirable to associate the screen shot and road image captured during a map correction request with the particular street name and/or street number upon which the navigation device 20 is traveling at the time the error report program is executed. Therefore, returning once again to the example of FIG. 4, additional meta information associated with the screen shot and road image may include the street name "Saw Mill River Parkway NB" and/or the road number "I 684 NB." Of course, these are only a limited number of examples of meta information that may be useful to associate with the screen shot and road image described above.
 The navigation device 20 may be programmed to include a verification feature requiring the user to affirmatively verify the captured image of road and/or screen shot together with the map correction request by some means. For example, if the navigation device 20 is configured with a speaker, a prerecorded or computer generated voice may say "You have requested a map correction to correct the current road speed to 70 km/h. If this is correct say `Yes.` If this is not correct say `No.`" By this method, the user can affirmatively verify whether the requested map correction has been correctly received in the navigation device 20 before the correction is actually implemented.
 FIG. 10 describes a method by which the map correction information is transmitted to an appropriate collection service or update center. Two methods are illustrated in FIG. 10. On the right hand side of the image in FIG. 10 is an example where the navigation device 20 is configured with wireless communication features so as to make an internet connection 30 on-the-fly. With an internet connection in this example, the reported error and map correction details 32, along with a screen shot 34 and captured road image 36, are transmitted to an appropriate collection service and/or map update center for the purpose of sharing the reported information. Alternatively, as shown on the left hand side of FIG. 10, the reported errors in the digital map can be communicated through computer upload to the internet 30 using traditional techniques. In both cases, at least the map correction information 32, screen shot 34 and captured image 36 are included in the transmission for the purpose of supplementing and validating the reported correction. Along with these elements 32, 34, 36, any additional collected metadata may be transmitted as described above including, but not limited to, geo-position, time stamp, traveling direction, etc.
 FIG. 11 provides a more detailed flow chart describing more enhanced functionality of the invention consistent with descriptions provided above. Function block 40 corresponds to the human voice command which the system has been programmed to recognize as the activation technique for initiating a correction report. Preferably, this is a voice command, however may be a touch screen input or other appropriate signal. Assuming a valid correction command is registered, screen shot and camera 28 functionality are activated in the manner described above. If not, the user may be prompted to re-enter the correction command at step 42. This may include written or audibly discernable instructions issued by the device 20 such as "I did not understand your instruction. Please repeat." Function block 44 corresponds to a particular map update selection such as one of the options depicted in FIGS. 3A and 3B. The preceding examples have utilized a speed correction update, however other command types may be accessed such as missing geometries (e.g., a new street), identification of a safety cam, vehicle type corrections (e.g., passenger cars only), direction of traffic flow and the like. Depending upon the particular type of map correction requested, another menu or next level command may need to be entered. This is indicated at query 46. If not, corrective information can be entered at function block 48. This corresponds in the preceding example to enter the new correct speed limit "70 km/h." Assuming inputs are validly entered, the system awaits a command stop at function block 50 which, in the earlier example, corresponds to the spoken word "Stop." At this point, the map element is updated at function block 52 where it is associated with the stored picture 36 and screen shot 34 information previously activated upon initially executing the error report program. If the update is not successful, an error log can be created at function block 54. If the update is successful, a change log is created at 56.
 Accordingly, the invention as described above is useful to optimize and simplify the map correction process using a navigation device 20 via, preferably, voice controlled HMI without any manual handling on-the-fly. The navigation device 20 is preferably voice control enabled and preprogrammed with a defined set of commands which may vary from one language to the next. Furthermore, the navigation device 20 has display screen shot functionality for capturing or recording a screen shot of the display screen 22. The navigation device 20 is operatively associated with a camera 28 for taking real-world snapshot(s) or recording the current real-world situation. The camera 28 may be connected to the navigation device 20 either integrally, by cable or through wireless communication.
 When a user encounters a perceived error in the digital map, such as an incorrect speed attribute, they will execute the error report program in the navigation device 20 through, preferably, voice command HMI. Upon execution of this error report program, a screen shot 34 of the display screen 22 is taken, together with a photo/movie 36 via the camera 28. These captured images correspond to the situation as it exists in real life at the moment that a user reports a perceived error in the digital map. In addition to the screen shot 34 and image 36, metadata may be associated with the requested correction such as the geo-position (i.e., its x, y, z coordinates) of the navigation device 20, the direction being driven, a time stamp (date, time), a unique identifier (ID), screen shot 34 and photo 36 (in case both are taken for the same position it needs to be assured that it is clear they are belonging to each other), and the street name/route number currently being traveled on. After the perceived error is recorded in this manner, and before the information is transmitted to an update center, the user may be given opportunity to verify the corrected information, make changes if necessary or possibly return to the location and recapture the information.
 In a somewhat related application of this technology, a voice recording feature can be associated with the map correction functionality described above in order to activate a screen shot/photo/movie while starting a voice recording feature associated with the navigation device 20. If a driver decides to help a stranded motorist, for example, they may initiate the system by speaking "Map correction--voice recording" and then speak a statement such as "I am stopping to help this abandoned motorist who appears to be injured." The camera 28 will record a still image or movie 36 which, assuming the camera 28 is pointed in the direction of the stranded motorist, will include evidence that may be helpful to record. As in the preceding examples, the voice recording can also receive an ID. The ID can be linked with the screen shot/photo/movie in the manner described above.
 The foregoing invention has been described in accordance with the relevant legal standards, thus the description is exemplary rather than limiting in nature. Variations and modifications to the disclosed embodiment may become apparent to those skilled in the art and fall within the scope of the invention.