HERE, the digital map company formerly owned by Nokia, is to launch a new service next year allowing drivers access to live traffic information using data from competing car makers.
The move, an industry first, will see the company’s owners – German automakers BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen – share visual information from sensors on hundreds of vehicles, allowing drivers to see videos of traffic jams, accidents, road hazards, traffic signs and parking information.
It represents the first big collaboration between the three companies since jointly acquiring HERE from Nokia for €2.8 billion last year, and is expected to launch in the first half of 2017.
Sensors would be placed on numerous vehicle parts, such as windshield wipers, headlights and camera, and translated into alerts on dashboards.
The service is likely to give HERE a step up over competition from large technology players, such as Google and Apple, which are developing their own mapping offers, but have considerably less access to data from few vehicles on the road.
HERE said other automakers are expected to join the project and contribute data from their respective vehicles.
By the end of 2018, HERE expects millions of vehicles to contribute live traffic feeds.
And as the number of automakers contributing data grows, it will provide a more well-rounded view of road conditions to aid human drivers, fueling the development of autonomous cars. Notably, the effort around connected cars has so far relied on individual car makers or technology suppliers.
“You have competing brands which are putting their data together to create very unique services which were not possible before,” Bruno Bourguet, HERE’s head of global sales, told Reuters.