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Intel invests in Here to create precise maps for autonomous cars

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Intel CES 2013 stock 2 1020

Intel is buying a 15 percent stake in Here, the mapping service started by Nokia that was sold last year to Audi, BMW, and Mercedes for over $3 billion.

Here is one of the hottest names in mapping — for companies in the auto business, at least — since it’s one of the few good options they can get ahold of that isn’t controlled by a competitor. It essentially offers them an out from relying on Google and gives these companies the ability to control a relatively mature mapping platform’s development.

Like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes, the investment Intel is making in Here is all about cars. Intel says it plans to work with Here to develop mapping systems that can pinpoint a vehicle’s location “within centimeters,” as a way to improve autonomous driving systems. That’s a key area for Intel, as it recently announced plans to invest $250 million in building self-driving vehicle systems.

As you might expect, Intel’s role in this partnership seems to be more on the hardware side. Here already offers a service, called “HD Live Map,” that’s supposed to continually collect data to build updated road maps and let self-driving cars see the road ahead. Edzard Overbeek, Here’s CEO, says in a statement that Intel’s role will be more as a “silicon provider,” helping to create systems that are able to better monitor a vehicle’s location.

While it goes unmentioned in the announcement, it’s easy to imagine Intel putting Here to use when it comes to its ambitions in drones, too. Mapping and location are key components of building drones that can fly themselves, and that’s exactly the kind of tech Intel will be developing alongside Here thanks to this investment.

The investment will have to receive regulatory approval; Intel and Here suspect that’ll happen within the next few months.