Audi, BMW, and Mercedes Benz have some ambitious plans for applying their new mapping technology to self-driving cars.
The three German automakers completed a $2.8 billion acquisition of Nokia’s HERE mapping and location business on Friday, and today HERE penned a blog post outlining its future plans under new ownership.
“The map is evolving into a live representation of the world, giving us a second-by-second view of our cities and road networks,” HERE President Sean Fernback said in the post. “Now we have the backing of three automotive companies which share our view that this map will be life-changing for people: it will power location services that improve mobility for people and enterprises, make driving safer and more enjoyable, and reduce emissions.”
HERE, which employs 6,500 people, powers the in-car navigation systems for a majority of vehicles on the road today, using more than 80,000 sources of data. Many automakers see HERE as crucial to development of future car technologies like self-driving vehicles.
“Now, to further advance its plans to deliver real-time maps, HERE will be exploring the possibility of incorporating anonymized data from Audi, BMW and Daimler vehicles, with a view to entering similar discussions with more industry participants in the coming months,” HERE said in the blog post. “With its platform further enhanced by data from multiple new sources, HERE would be able to accelerate the development of the next generation map needed for automated driving for the benefit of all automotive customers, as well as to enhance the quality of its maps, products and services for customers in other industries.”
Former HERE CEO Michael Halbherr, who stepped down this past August, told GeekWire last year that his company wanted “to create an incredible location cloud business.”
“We want to be known as the location cloud also from a consumer perspective, the way Spotify is known for music,” he said. “We want to work everywhere.”
HERE was one of the three major businesses that remained part of Nokia following Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s smartphone business. Microsoft agreed to a long-term license of the HERE technology as part of its Nokia deal.
HERE has a substantial presence in the Seattle region following its acquisition of Medio Systems last year. The company told GeekWire that it plans to expand its office in Seattle as a result of the new ownership.
“As we incorporate more sensor data into our location platform, including car sensor data from our new owners, how we use that data to improve urban mobility becomes increasingly important,” Rob Lilleness, Head of Predictive Analytics and Seattle Site Lead for HERE, said in a statement. “Our HERE Seattle site and its expertise in analyzing location-based sensor data in real time is crucial to that effort, and therefore, I expect our presence in Seattle to increase over time.”