Car companies plot future without Google Maps with Here acquisition

  • TECH
  • Tuesday, 04 Aug 2015

Declaring their independence: A consortium of carmakers has agreed to buy Nokia's mapping business to reduce their dependency on software from tech companies like Google. Photo: AFP

Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler have agreed to buy Nokia's HERE mapping and location services business. 

The acquisition – believed to cost in the region of €2.8bil (RM11.84bil) and which will need to be cleared by competition and regularity bodies – will give the carmakers a cartographic platform for building the next generation of connected and autonomous cars and related services with less dependence on Google. 

HERE offers incredibly accurate maps, constant updates via a fleet of mapping vehicles and, thanks to heavy use of the cloud, real-time updates on a scale equal to or better than Google's Google Maps

"HERE will play a key role in the digital revolution of mobility, combining high definition maps and data from vehicles to make travel safer and easier for everyone," explained Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. 

This can mean anything from hazard and weather warnings, predictive alerts regarding local congestion and, in the future, as the technology develops and is used by more cars, in-depth knowledge of the contours of a particular route that are so detailed they can pre-program a car's braking and stability systems to cope, ahead of time. 

"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 anonymised 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. 

"However, most importantly the system will give all carmakers an independent platform for developing their own connected and self-driving car technologies. High-precision digital maps are a crucial component of the mobility of the future. 

"With the joint acquisition of HERE, we want to secure the independence of this central service for all vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and customers in other industries," stated Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG. 

In other words, although the three car companies will each hold an equal stake in the business, HERE will remain independent and open to all. 

Although announced on Aug 3, the deal is not expected to be formally concluded until early 2016. 

However, the news will be received positively among all carmakers as they now have a truly valid alternative to Google's services. – AFP Relaxnews

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