Volkswagen and navigation company TomTom have joined forces to develop driverless car technology.

Car-maker Volkswagen is using TomTom's expertise in mapping combined with its research into highly autonomous driving (HAD) technology.

The partnership, announced this week, is part of Volkswagen's strategy for when driverless cars begin to enter the consumer market.

Current GPS navigation systems will not be sufficient when automated cars comes reach critical mass, as a car's computer will require accurate real-time information about its location and environment, like lane markings and traffic lights to interact with its surroundings.

"Partnering with Volkswagen Group Research to develop the future of HAD reaffirms TomTom's position as a key partner in the automotive market," said Harold Goddijn, CEO TomTom.

"TomTom's mapping expertise provides the precise data and scalable technology platform needed to enable highly automated driving in cars."

TomTom and Volkswagen Research are working on a concept based on the Navigation Data Standard, a new standard for maps to provide one file format for all navigation devices. Using the NDS will enable production of scalable and cost effective automated driving systems, that do not need costly hardware.

Connected cars are already on the roads, but automated driving features could be seen as soon as 2016, including a General Motors model with hands-free driving.