There are many key elements to the successful implementation of connected, autonomous cars. Intelligent, realtime maps and location services are two of the most important elements, however, because cars — even with environment sensors and rear view cameras — will need a bigger picture of what lies ahead.
Though essential, the technologies have long been out of the reach of many major automakers. That is, until now.
A consortium of three of Germany’s largest automakers, Audi, BMW and Daimler (the parent company of Mercedes-Benz), just took a big step towards applying those essential technologies into customer cars by agreeing to buy Nokia’s digital mapping business, HERE, for just shy of $2.8 billion.
HERE is able to compile high-def digital maps by collecting data from over 80,000 sources daily, including cars, mobile phones and infrastructure elements.
Combining the three companies together with HERE’s already extensive network of data points, the digital mapper is able to add 2 million additional connected cars that will greatly broaden the accuracy and scope of HERE’s maps and location services.
If you’re not familiar with HERE, perhaps you should be. Four out of five new cars sold in Europe and North America utilize HERE’s mapping technology in their navigation systems. That means, there’s a good chance HERE already gets you where you want to go.
If you’re worried that the HERE acquisition means a shuttering of shared mapping tech within the industry, it actually spells the exact opposite. “HERE will remain open to all customers, and be open to other investors who would create an even broader shareholder structure,” said a BMW press release.
And that’s what it will take for self-driving cars to become a reality: Carmakers working together in an open and cooperative fashion to embolden and share connected tech, rather than keeping it tucked away to themselves.