BMW, Audi and Mercedes/Daimler have finalised the purchase of Nokia's mapping service, known as HERE. The purchase began last August and concluded with the Swedish phone manufacturer selling HERE for approximately 2.55 billion Euros.
HERE maps supply four out of five vehicles, so when Nokia put the service up for sale in April there were fears that it could be purchased by a tech company that could then monopolise in-car mapping. BMW, Audi and Mercedes/Daimler collaborated to prevent this, and also to avoid disruption to the development of self-driving vehicles.
The German manufacturers are said to have beaten competition from Uber, amongst other interested parties.
Maps are becoming an increasingly critical component for vehicles, as cars become more autonomous. “High-precision digital maps are a crucial component of the mobility of the future,” Dieter Zetsche, Daimler chief executive, said in a statement.
The plan is for sensors on vehicles to contribute to the HERE platform’s vast wealth of real-time information. This information can then be shared via the cloud and disseminated so all vehicles will know if, for example, there’s ice on the roads or traffic jams ahead. This move is another step towards the next stage of vehicle-to-vehicle communications and access to maps of this detail and precision will make the development of these technologies more cost-effective for the car manufacturers involved.
The fear of one technology company cutting automotive rivals out of the race towards autonomous vehicles has driven the three German car makers to unconventionally club together. They are promising to open up ownership to other automotive partners to guarantee “long term availability” of the platform.
Regarding the acquisition, the consortium said, “HERE is laying the foundations for the next generation of mobility and location-based services. For the automotive industry, this is the basis for new assistance systems and ultimately fully autonomous driving… On the basis of the shared raw data, all automobile manufacturers can offer their customers differentiated and brand-specific services.”
The plan to pool the live data collected, the unofficial, and somewhat unlikely, alliance has assured HERE customers that the platform will be run for the benefit for all. HERE licenses its mapping database to a variety of clients, including Samsung, Microsoft, Bing, Amazon and Garmin and has more customers than competitors TomTom or Google.
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