Horizontal Cities: The Route of Least Resistance

Horizontal Cities is a start-up Data Service Provider based in Portugal, who specializes in Energy Efficient Routing (ECO-Routing) that allows their users to navigate along the most energy-efficient routes, based on the profile requested by the user. According to their website, their “routing solution is focused on optimizing and predicting energy consumption, ensuring the necessary detail by using high-quality topographic data.”

The company collects and processes data, and creates proprietary routing technology based on detailed topographic data. They make the routing information available, directly to end-users via their proprietary mobile application as well as to developers through their API for integration with other technologies.

Their Horizontal Cities Urban Cycling APP shows the most horizontal cycling routes based on the physical profile of the user, as a way to make cities with complex topography more appropriate for cycling. “In this startup phase, the HC Cycling APP is our core product for testing both API and Data and getting users, and we plan to bring it as fast as possible to multiple large cities in the EU and USA,” stated the start-up on their website.

Currently, the Horizontal app is available in these regions:

  • City of Lisbon
  • Brussels Capital Region
  • Comunidad de Madrid
  • City of Berlin
  • Kanton of Zürich

The combination of high-quality topographic data and the proprietary algorithm into a highly scalable and updated technology stack enables Horizontal Cities to offer a unique solution that can be used for energy optimization in route calculation for cycling. Moreover, adaptations to the algorithm can make the technology available for electric cars, conventional gas-powered vehicles, public transports, people with reduced mobility, sporting apps and many more.

By providing a specific routing solution that is mainly focused on energy efficiency, they are not only positioning themselves as a unique offer, but the company is also targeting niche markets that are just starting to become main stream, like green energy transportation, cycling or electric vehicles.

Features of the App include:

Avoiding hills, avoiding cobblestones. The flattest, yet fasted route possible, using the best topographic data available.

Preference for cycling paths and local cycling networks. Preferring low traffic areas over heavy traffic streets.

Beginner, daily commuter or pro? Routing based on your personal cycling profile. Based on your preferences. Adjusting when you improve.

Real-time turn-by-turn navigation and voice guidance. Route tracking.

Horizontal Cities explained that when you are cycling and you get the feeling that all seems to be flat, but you have to work extra hard to maintain your cycling speed, is called faux-plat, or false flat. A small difference in slope percentage makes a big difference on your bike. A 2% slope is hard to see with the bare eye, but requires a lot more energy to overcome than a pancake flat road:

  • cycling takes twice the effort
  • a normal car can use up to 35% more fuel
  • a heavy truck uses up to 40% more fuel

Thus, reliable data is crucial. The Horizontal app uses state-of-the-art topographic data with the highest possible detail. Where available, the company employs raw LiDAR-derived elevation data, with a vertical error of not more than 15cm. This results in very heavy 3D models, but the outcome is absolutely stunning. They build their topographic models in-house, on massive cloud computers, out of billions and billions of survey points. Based on these topographic models, Horizontal Cities calculates the slope of every single street segment in the city.

The start-up combines the best of topographic data with entire street networks all over the world. Then they calculate the slope of all streets and of all street segments. As they write on their website, “Every. Single. Street. Every 10 meters. Thousands of kilometres.

For more information visit http://horizontalcities.com or view them on Twitter.


Image Credit: Jamesteohart / Shutterstock


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