Intel buys into map services provider Here

January 04, 2017 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Chipmaker Intel will acquire 15% of Here, a company that offers digital map services and real-time location-based services for the automotive industry. The move follows similar announcements from other major high-tech companies like Microsoft and Mobileye. Thus, it becomes obvious that services around digital maps are becoming the next major arena in the battle about the digital mobile consumer.

According to a press release from Here, Intel has agreed with Here owners Audi, BMW and Daimler to acquire 15 % of Here’s shares. In addition, Here and Intel agreed to develop a proof of concept for a highly scalable software architecture that will enable near-realtime updates of high-resolution digital maps. Such electronic maps are considered a major technological enabler for automated driving. In addition, both companies will enter intensive discussions about strategic options related to the interplay between location-based data with edge computing devices.

“Cars will be among the smartest and most intelligent devices”, explained Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. “We are very excited to provide an important basis technology for the connected vehicle of the future”.

High-resolution maps of the next generation and the scalable software architecture to be developed by Intel will enable vehicles to navigate at a precision of a few centimeters and thus recognize exactly their position in relation to relevant objects such as the traffic lane or the curb – a major prerequisite for automated driving. Updates to this map almost in real time would also enable the vehicles to stay continuously informed about deviations, traffic stalls, weather-based traffic obstructions and other facts relevant for navigation.

Intel will test the architecture to be developed with Audi, BMW and Daimler. Intel and Here plan to make it available industry-wide as an integrated offering, enabling carmakers to significantly reduce their time-to-market.

Intel’s move acknowledges the importance of electronic map services to autonomous driving. At the same time, it highlights the attractiveness of Here as the partner for location-based, automotive-related location based services over competing services from digital top dogs like Apple and Google. Intel’s acquisition follows similar moves from other major players. Recently, an Asian group integrating Chinese mapping company Navinfo, internet giant Tencent and Singapore-based investment firm GIC acquired a 10% stake of Here, accompanied with announcements to offer Here’s map services in China. In December, autonomous driving technology company Mobileye announced a collaboration with the goal of integrating Mobileye’s Roadbook data layer into Here’s Live Map – a move that ties Mobileye’s automotive sensor data into the navigation system. Thus, Live Map users basically get access to the sensor data generated by other cars.