Intel is set to acquire a 15 percent stake in digital mapping company HERE which is owned by Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The acquisition is set to be completed in the first quarter of 2017, pending approval from various regulatory bodies.

In addition to the acquisition, Intel and HERE have signed an agreement to collaborate on the development of a proof-of-concept scalable system that supports real-time updates of highly-detailed digital maps that self-driving cars will be able to tap in order to calculate their routes.

HERE has been developing the digital maps for several years, including using information gathered from sensors fitted to car models from its owners Audi, BMW and Mercedes. In late December, HERE announced that it would also use information gathered from vehicle sensor company Mobileye. All of these sensors are the key to updating the maps in real time.

The maps promise to make self-driving cars extremely safe. For example, today’s navigation technology can pinpoint a car’s location to within meters, but HERE’s digital maps support localization to within centimeters. This will help vehicles precisely position themselves on the roadway to enable reliable and safe self-driving capability.

HERE HD Live Map

HERE HD Live Map

And together with vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, the maps will also give vehicles the ability to see obstacles beyond their immediate field of vision and receive real-time updates as environments change due to traffic, road conditions and other factors.

“A real-time, self-healing and high-definition representation of the physical world is critical for autonomous driving, and achieving this will require significantly more powerful and capable in-vehicle computer platforms,” HERE CEO Edzard Overbeek said in a statement. “As a premier silicon provider, Intel can help accelerate HERE’s ambitions in this area by supporting the creation of a universal, always up-to-date digital location platform that spans the vehicle, the cloud and everything else connected.”

Intel and HERE will initially work with Audi, BMW and Mercedes to test the technology. However, the plan is to make it available to other automakers.

Note, Intel is already working with BMW and Mobileye to develop self-driving cars and estimates to have the technology ready by 2021.