On Thursday morning, Bosch announced that it is buying a five percent stake in the mapping and location services company Here. In doing so, it joins other shareholders Audi, BMW, Daimler-Benz, and Intel—the automakers having bought the company for $2.7 billion from Nokia in 2015, with Intel then buying a 15 percent stake in early 2017.
"Bosch is more than cars," says Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. "Industry 4.0, smart homes, and smart cities are rapidly growing areas of business for us, in which establishing and expanding data-based services will result in synergies with Here."
While regular readers will be most familiar with Here as one of the companies working on the very detailed maps to be used by autonomous cars, some drivers won't need to wait that long to benefit from its technology. On Wednesday, Here also announced the commercial launch of its Safety Services Suite, which will provide localized hazard warnings and up-to-date road sign information. The services will first show up in BMWs in North America and Europe in mid-2018.
The information that goes into the Safety Services Suite is aggregated from sensor data gathered by cars from not just BMW but the other brands that work with Here—think of it like an OEM-level version of crowdsourced platforms like Waze.
Geotagged information like hazard light or fog light activation, emergency braking, and electronic stability control intervention, as well as other sensor data is sent by individual cars to Here's Open Location Platform, which then uses it to build up a picture of the state of the road network. A similar approach will be used for the HD maps used by self-driving cars in the future, where each car sends updated real-time information on road conditions that can be compared to a base map.
"Digital real-time maps and location-based services form the basis for the mobility of tomorrow. In summer 2017, the BMW Group introduced the first stage of local hazard warning based on intelligent connectivity and car-to-car communications," said Dieter May, Senior Vice President Digital Services and Business Models at BMW Group. "We are delighted that the next stage will follow from mid-2018 and that BMW drivers will be the first to benefit from this enhanced service. All this data on local hazards, such as the scene of an accident or dangerous weather conditions, can be shared on an anonymous basis to warn drivers in good time and so further improve safety."