In a historic move, Germany’s three major premium automakers Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler have joined forces to acquire Nokia’s HERE digital mapping and location services business. The deal, which should be finalized by early 2016, is valued at 2.8 billion euros ($3.1 billion) and represents an unprecedented cooperation given its scale.
The three automakers will each hold an equal share and are expected to use HERE to further their respective developments in autonomous cars. Crucially, HERE will continue to be run independently, with its own management and customers, thus keeping the service free for all automakers while providing an additional source of income for its new owners via licensing fees.
What HERE provides is extremely precise digital maps that can be used in combination with real-time vehicle data collected from the high-precision cameras and sensors installed in modern cars, meaning the maps are constantly being updated. For the automotive industry, this will serve as the basis for new assistance systems and ultimately fully autonomous driving.
Known as “swarm intelligence,” the information supplied from numerous vehicles means HERE maps will be able to facilitate warnings of hazards in real time. For example, icy road conditions could be added to the map based on calculations of data such as ABS activations and outside temperature from an individual vehicle.
A more advanced possibility is using the data to learn about critical bends on the road, in order to warn drivers or to activate assistance systems. Another possibility is anticipation of green phases of stoplights. This would allow vehicles to navigate through an urban area on a “green wave” with the appropriate engine performance and minimized fuel consumption.
HERE is currently laying the foundations for this next generation of mobility and location based services.