German technology and component providers Bosch and Continental have both inked pacts to acquire a 5 percent stake each in HERE Technologies, a global leader in mapping and location services. All three parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price. The share will be sold by HERE’s current indirect shareholders, Audi AG, BMW Group and Daimler AG.
While the acquisition gives a boost to Bosch’s services business, it also helps HERE take a further step toward its goal of becoming a global provider of data-based real-time location services to customers both inside and outside the automotive industry.
“Bosch is more than cars,” said 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."
Edzard Overbeek, the CEO of HERE Technologies, added: “We are delighted to have brought on board a strong partner like Bosch, with its broad-based expertise in both the automotive and Internet of Things sectors. Bosch’s strong presence across the Americas, Asia and Europe also offers HERE attractive opportunities to further grow our business globally.”
Bosch says data-based services are already contributing more and more to its growth. Worldwide, the company employs more than 20,000 software engineers across 120 locations and operates its own IoT cloud. In addition, Bosch offers its IoT Suite, a dedicated software platform for IoT solutions.
The planned collaboration between Bosch and HERE could happen in the Industry 4.0 domain, for example. One potential area of application is intralogistics. For example, high-definition indoor navigation maps could be used to automate and streamline flows of goods all the way to the production line. Likewise, they could be used to direct maintenance personnel unfamiliar with a facility directly to the equipment in need of repair.
Open platforms for all customers will be the focal point of the collaboration between Bosch and HERE, both in non-automotive as well as automotive domains, and particularly where increasingly connected and automated mobility is concerned. High-definition maps are a requirement for self-driving cars. These must be kept up-to-date with data from the vehicle’s sensors and supplemented with real-time information on traffic conditions, congestion, construction sites, and accidents.
The road signature provided by Bosch gives an idea of how this might be done. It uses information from the Bosch radar and video sensors in the vehicle to enrich and update high-definition maps. Consequently, Bosch and HERE are exploring opportunities to utilise road signature in the maintenance of HERE HD Live Map, HERE’s map for automated vehicles. At the same time, Bosch will be continuing its work on the road signature with partners such as TomTom, AutoNavi, Baidu, NavInfo, and Increment P.
Continental to focus on systems for dynamically maintaining and updating HD maps
In addition to the investment, Continental will sign a collaboration agreement with HERE. The aim is to pave the way for technologies that facilitate the reliable availability of highly accurate data for the efficient transportation of people and their goods. The two companies are focused on global solutions to support the needs of the automotive and mobility industries across all major markets.
“Digital maps and location-based services are key innovations for the future of connected mobility. By leveraging HERE’s technology, we look forward to generating further profitable growth in mobility services and automated driving,” said Dr. Elmar Degenhart, Continental CEO.
Edzard Overbeek, CEO of HERE Technologies, said: “Our vision for HERE is to enable an autonomous world for everyone. To achieve this, you need strong partners that complement each other in different areas. Therefore, we are excited to welcome Continental as both a strategic investor and strong partner with whom we can work together on the future of mobility and transportation.”
Continental and HERE have already proven their expertise in joint development projects. This new collaboration will leverage the complementary technologies of both companies. This includes Continental’s experience from its Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) business unit in mobility services and in service operations, the know-how of the Continental affiliate Elektrobit in software, cyber security and embedded systems capabilities as well as HERE’s expertise in high-resolution digital mapping, software and cloud services.
In doing so, Continental and HERE will go beyond their pre-existing business relationships in hardware, software, data and services. Together they intend to build systems that make use of HERE HD Live Map, the map for automated vehicles, and the cloud connectivity that comes with it for new applications and refinements in vehicle automation and mobility services. They will, for example, explore the creation of more precise electronic horizons (eHorizon) in advanced driver assistance systems, providing vehicles and their drivers with a highly accurate and fresh view of the road ahead. They will also explore how the positioning of a vehicle on the road can be improved and how the information needed for it can be maintained and updated dynamically.