Audi, BMW and Daimler have agreed with Nokia that they will acquire its mapping and location services business, HERE.
HERE is one of the largest and most advanced digital mapping and location systems now. It started out in Chicago in 1986 as Navteq before Nokia acquired it in 2007, and is now slated to change ownership again. The cloud-based service maintains high-definition digital maps for nearly 200 countries and supports over 50 languages, gathering data from users to update the data continuously.
The acquisition is intended to secure the long term availability of HERE’s products and services as an open, independent and value creating platform for cloud-based maps and other mobility services accessible to all customers from the automotive industry and other sectors. The three partners will each hold an equal stake in HERE; none of them seeks to acquire a majority interest.
According to the official release, HERE provides extremely precise digital maps which will be used in combination with real-time vehicle data in order to increase road safety and to facilitate innovative new products and services. On the basis of the shared raw data, all automobile manufacturers can offer their customers differentiated and brand-specific services.
“HERE will be able to offer users a continuously improving product, bringing highly automated driving and location based services a step further. As the volume of anonymized data from the vehicles increases, services will become more convenient, more connected and further tailored to the users’ individual requirements,” said Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG for Technical Development, Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG for Development, and Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Group Research. It is the explicit intention that all HERE customers are to benefit from this continuous optimization.
Swarm intelligence will create new information density for road maps and the social benefits of swarm intelligence are enormous. They facilitate warnings of hazards in real time, of icy roads for example, based on calculations of individual data such as ABS activations and outside temperature. Upcoming traffic jams will be identified more precisely in the future, significantly reducing the risk of accidents. In this way, the vision of accident-free driving is gradually becoming reality. In a further stage, the data could be used to learn about critical bends on the road, in order to warn drivers in good time or to activate assistance systems. Anticipation of green phases of stoplights could navigate vehicles through an urban area on a “green wave” with the appropriate engine performance and minimized fuel consumption.
High-precision maps are important for autonomous driving and many other forms of assistance systems, as these technologies require an up-to-date plan of a vehicle’s surroundings exact to the nearest centimeter, in order to react in real time. While HERE already produces extremely precise static maps, they can be verified more exactly and continually updated with a constant flow of data from vehicles’ surroundings.
According to worldcarfans, Nokia initially wanted $4 billion (RM15.4 billion) for its HERE mapping business but it seems like they have reached an agreement with the German premium trio for $3 billion (RM11.6 billion). Although the deal has not been finalized just yet and it could still be delayed or even fall apart, but Nokia did say its strategic review for HERE is at an “advanced stage”, so most likely the papers are just about ready to be signed.