Last year, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz wrote history when they announced that they will join forces to purchase Here Maps from Nokia, in a bid worth multiple billions of dollars. The aim was to use the technology available of the Here company to create a system all three rivals could use to develop their autonomous cars. Since then the three were quiet about how things were moving along, until this week when the first results of what they have been working on were announced.
As expected, the first move was to offer access to traffic data gathered by all their cars to a host of countries, in an effort to help decrease congestion. On Wednesday, some 60 countries gained access to data gathered by BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz vehicles roaming their streets, painting a more accurate than ever real-time picture of congestion on their streets. This, therefore, makes HERE the first company to offer such info from competing companies as usually, every car maker has its own sources for traffic data found on your infotainment screen.
Of course, the whole purpose of this generosity is that, later on, the data gathered during these initial phases will be used to help develop autonomous cars. “Autonomous cars need to be able to see all around them if they are to navigate the streets safely and efficiently,” HERE CEO Edzard Overbeek wrote in a blog post. Therefore, the first order of business is to figure out where these autonomous cars will be driven and in what kind of traffic.
The problem with this communication between vehicles is that it is done via radio waves and that means, they can be accessed by unauthorized third parties unless properly secured. This could very well lead to an apocalyptic scenario such as the one in the latest Fast and Furious movie, where hackers can alter our cars’ behavior. Nothing of the sort has yet happened but the things will evolve rather fast in the years to come.