MobileEye and HERE join forces to help autonomous vehicles drive better

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If autonomous vehicles are ever to hit the roads en masse, they’ll require the ability to accurately recognize all the different landmarks and environmental factors that influence driving.

The technology isn’t quite there yet, but Mobileye N.V. and HERE believe that they can bring the auto industry a lot closer. The companies today launched a broad-reaching collaboration that will focus on gathering mapping data and helping autonomous cars better understand their surroundings.

As part of the partnership, MobileEye will use HERE’s Open Location Platform for processing location data to support its Road Experience Management service. First unveiled on the sidelines of last year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the latter system is touted as a crowdsourced map generator that can use vehicle sensors to collect road information. Software installed in each supported car tracks landmarks such as road signs and sends its findings to a cloud-based map that is continuously updated with new data.

It’s similar to the crowdsourced traffic tracking approach pioneered by Wave, which also hails from MobileEye’s home country of Israel. But Roadbook’s reliance on vehicle sensors means that the company must actively collaborate with car makers to collect data from their vehicles. That’s another area where today’s partnership could benefit the Israeli firm.

Originally a part of Nokia Corp., HERE was acquired by German auto giants Daimler AG, BMW AG and Audi AG last year for $3 billion. The latter company is owned by Volkswagen AG, which is already collaborating with MobileEye on integrating the Road Experience Management system into its vehicles. The new partnership could create an opportunity MobileEye to bring the company’s other stakeholders onboard as well.

HERE, meanwhile, gains a new high-profile user for its Open Location Platform that provides a powerful endorsement of its capabilities. The partnership will also see the company integrate MobileEye’s crowdsourced mapping data into its HD Live Map of road conditions, which was introduced back in January.

This extra information should make the service more appealing for, among others, the Chinese auto makers that HERE hopes to court through its newly announced alliance with NavInfo Co. Ltd. The latter firm bought a 10 percent stake in the map maker on Tuesday along with two other Asian investors as part of the agreement. One of the deal’s main priorities is to launch a new joint venture that will focus on making  HERE’s services and data more widely available in China.

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