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Discussion Starter #1
OK, I have researched this today and called some helpful database/software folks who work on these systems and can give what I hope is a useful explanation. This post is only relevant to Euro readers, because TMC doesn't exist in US. And it is UK-centric info. Also it is a bit techno-nerdy, so switch channels now if not interested!

There are three elements to TMC traffic info systems

1. There are companies who maintain and own the real-time databases of traffic speeds on virtually every road in the country, by collecting real-time traffic info by various methods (more on this later). They sell this data feed to car manufacturers (often 3 years subscription with a new car) then to drivers by subscription renewal.
2. Next, you need a protocol for delivering the data to the car. That's what RDS-TMC is - a Europe-wide data encoding protocol. So, traffic information is encoded under RDS-TMC and is then transmitted to cars (inaudibly) over a carrier FM music station
3. Finally, your car must be able to receive the TMC datafeed, decode it, display it, and do clever things like show it on the satnav screen

As regards item 3, the e60 M5 is fully equipped to receive and display data (from one source, not others).

As regards item 2, this is a technical protocol across Europe that has been signed up to by all the parties involved. So, database builders can format their traffic info so that it can be broadcast along an FM music channel in the RDS- TMC format.

As regards item 3 it varies by country. In the UK there are 2 database companies, TrafficMaster and ISIS. BMW's deal is to buy ISIS.

ISIS transmit over the classic FM music channel. They collect their data from various sources. Local highway authorities tell them when road repairs/closures are happening, and live data comes from deals whereby they have black boxes installed in Eddie Stobbart trucks and National Express coaches, and ISIS "ping" these black boxes by cellphone and receive back a data packet of location and speed. By doing lots of pinging they kinda get road speed across the country

Traffic Master transmit over various FM music channels. They get their data not from pinging trucking firms but from the "blue camera" network which has been installed for a few years in the UK. These are 1000s of roadside cameras that track vehicle speed. As anyone who has used the previous generation of TrafficMaster (non TMC encoded, as fitted in e39M5) knows, the Trafficmaster data feed from the blue cameras is excellent quality

So that's it. The new M5 is basically able to show you a database of road speeds, in real time, bought from ISIS, and gathered from pinging Eddie Stobbart Trucks and National coaches, and some other similar sources. You gotta decide if you are happy with that. Personally I'm not. If a trunk road suffers an instant blockage (say because of a crash) there may not be a blackboxed truck in the actual jam, or it may not have been pinged recently, so ISIS might not know about the jam. TrafficMaster usually do know quickly(in my experience). Likewise, haulage firms do not send out trucks onto the M25 at 5pm on Fridays, so they may not even know the traffic speed there

It is not possible to reconfigure the BMW system to collect Trafficmaster data rather than ISIS.

So, I'm gonna rip the TrafficMaster box out of my e39 and feed it into the video in in my e60, so I have the choice of seeing the ISIS data or the Trafficmaster. It was retrofitted by the UK BMW importer anyway, so it can be retro-ripped out. Gut feeling tells me the trafficmaster data is higher quality. I suggest others in UK consider doing the same. In other Euro countries, it would be good to find out how your TMC data supplier is collecting traffic speed data, so you have an understanding of the quality of the data feed that you are seeing on the screen. Not that you'll have any alternative - you can only see the data feed that BMW has chosen for you - which might not be the best one (as in the UK, imho)

That's it. Sorry a bit long and boring
 

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Thanks for an excellent explanation and saving me the time of undertaking a similar bit of research. Some questions though:

1. Does the ISIS system rely on you actually listening to Classic FM or is it just using it as a carrier (dual tuners?) regardless of what is on the radio?

2. I have a colour Trafficmaster (I agree with you, it is excellent) but how are you going to feed it into the on-board LCD? I thought the TM was a self contained unit with touch screen?

3. I understood TMC was a subscription service or is that bundled into the cost of the car?

Thanks in advance.

David
 

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We've ordered the car with navigation pro, and it's in the car. It's working VERY well, you can set the car up to "dynamic route", then it will guide you around the queues if it's a long one, or let you drive through it, depends what the computer finds faster :blabla:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Heuer said:
Thanks for an excellent explanation and saving me the time of undertaking a similar bit of research. Some questions though:

1. Does the ISIS system rely on you actually listening to Classic FM or is it just using it as a carrier (dual tuners?) regardless of what is on the radio?

2. I have a colour Trafficmaster (I agree with you, it is excellent) but how are you going to feed it into the on-board LCD? I thought the TM was a self contained unit with touch screen?

3. I understood TMC was a subscription service or is that bundled into the cost of the car?

Thanks in advance.

David
1. No you dont have to listen to classic FM. You set classic FM as the background TMC listening station, and leave it there. The car radio has 2 tuners, one for your music and one to get the traffic data

2. I have the OEM traffic master as fitted to a UK-supplied E39, as part of the "comms pack". It's a black box in the boot with a video lead output. In the e39 that video out feeds into the dashboard TV screen. There is no separate touch screen for the trafficmaster in the BMW-supplied TM. The video out somehow will have to feed into aux video in on the e60. I have no idea how to do that yet, as I dont have my e60 till 2 weeks today. But I'm gonna try. It sounds like you have the aftermarket colour TM, which will be impossible to integrate becuase it needs the touch screen control. The original BMW TM is controlled by two switches, which I can install in a spare space on the e60 dash - they are "BMW style" switches so will look ok.

3. It is subscription but BMW include several years in the price of the car. After that you have to pay, I guess. I dunno the exact details, I have not got the e60 yet. With the old TM you got 3 years with the car then could renew every 6mths or 12mths
 

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Discussion Starter #5
MortenDK said:
We've ordered the car with navigation pro, and it's in the car. It's working VERY well, you can set the car up to "dynamic route", then it will guide you around the queues if it's a long one, or let you drive through it, depends what the computer finds faster :blabla:
If it works well Morton then the traffic speed data that the system is receiving is good quality. The system is great, but only if it's being told about jams. My concern is that the ISIS data might not be as good as the Trafficmaster data, becuase they are collected compeltely differently. I only say "might" - I have not tried ISIS data yet. I do know that Trafficmaster data is great, been using it 4.5 years. Glad to hear it can work well though
 

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Very interesting, however I have not been a great fan of Traffic Master, like you I had it fitted to my previous E39. What I found frustrating with Traffic Master was the need to constantly change from Sat Nav view to Traffic Master view. It was also difficult to establish exactly where the traffic problem was in relation to your vehicle position. Traffic Master only covers the roads where it has the blue cameras sited, therefore does not pick up other delays, even on some of the major routes. I currently use TMC on my X5 (and incidently is available on all non UK euro country discs on the old E39 system) and find it absolutely excellent, both here and on mainland europe. On my new M5 which i take delivery on 1st Sept 2005 (just 17 days away!!!) I have also opted for BMW Assist which offers even more traffic information (along with other information) this enhances the the information being received via the Sat Nav system. Take my advise, don't waste your time or money reinstalling TM stick with TMC, because after using it I'm sure you'll not miss TM.
 
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