The former mapping division of Nokia, Here, announced today plans to expand its global mapping efforts, including specific improvements to next-generation maps readable by self-driving cars. The company was acquired by a consortium of German automakers, including Audi, BMW, and Mercedes parent company Daimler, for around $3.1 billion in August. Here’s work on high-resolution, real-time maps now stands to benefit those car manufactures' autonomous efforts, while also making its standard navigation software a more attractive alternative to Google and Apple Maps.
"The closer to reality a map becomes, the less useful it tends to be. Maps have historically been abstractions of reality by necessity," the company said in a blog post. "But what if map data is not only designed for direct consumption by people, but also to be read by machines capable of processing vast quantities of information?" Here plans to use real-time anonymized driver data to improve its software and build more detailed maps, much in the same way Tesla has begun informing its new Autopilot feature with data taken directly from its electric cars.
Map data designed to be read by machines
Here says that it's open to expanding the data gathering initiative to other companies in the auto industry, and doing so would let it "accelerate the development of the next generation map needed for automated driving." Automakers may find it more appealing to work with Here rather than relying and building on free consumer software from tech companies that lacks direct access to vehicle data.