Navteq today launched a beta showcase of its latest road navigation technology, as a clear rival to the Google Maps website.

The new site, at http://navteq.com, allows users to plan road routes worldwide in 77 countries using draggable interactive 3D maps.

The maps show roads, points of interest and live traffic (colour-coded and with average speeds) and have the option of hybrid displays including satellite imagery.

3D fly-through

The tilt level of the 3D mapping can adjusted, a zoom button flies smoothly out and in again briefly to help orientation and the entire map area can be panned or zoomed.

For navigation, the new Navteq site offers Junction Views - detailed plans to help drivers negotiate over 9,000 junctions across Western Europe and North America. The route fly-through is particularly impressive.

Routes and maps can be printed, or the Navteq website can create one-click digital route maps to upload to Garmin, Navman, Navigon and, naturally, Nokia devices. (Nokia bought Navteq in 2007).

It will also send links via email for mobile users to view maps and routes online. All in all, well worth a visit if you do a lot of route planning at home (or if you just want to boycott Google's controversial Street View).