Author(s): Raghu Gopal
Here is a taste of things to come in the driving world.
Here, a German digital map maker, has introduced a common platform, called the Open Location Platform, for traffic data collected from on-vehicle sensors. Here is owned by a consortium backed by Audi, BMW and Daimler. These automakers will launch services that use the traffic data including Here Real-Time Traffic, Hazard Warnings, Road Signs and On-Street Parking. The services are expected to debut in early 2017.
The concept behind the platform is that of sharing. Late-model cars, particularly at the high end of the market, are filled with sensors that monitor and alert a driver to conditions about traffic and weather, for example. Connected cars can feed this data to a common database that other cars in the area can access. For example, the platform could enable drivers to detect accidents, or slick road conditions allowing a car's automatic brakes to kick in.
Here expects other automakers to join in its project in the future and contribute data from their vehicles. It's clear that there is a network effect here and the higher the number of cars that contribute data, the greater the value will be. Here has long advocated this kind of industry collaboration.
This crowd-sourced approach is not unique. Google-owned Waze also provides traffic data collected from its users, but data generated by the German car makers should collect and provide more detailed information given the volumes of such vehicles that feature on-board sensors.
Digital maps have become a battleground as the auto and transport industries strive to deliver autonomous vehicles on their own terms, without depending on Silicon Valley. This will require highly detailed, real-time information about a car's surroundings. Here is one of the few companies in the market with the assets to pull together a complete ecosystem to support a smart grid for drivers, ultimately leading toward a driverless environment.