Three giants of the German car industry: Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have entered into a collaboration that will see the connected car expert company they jointly own, Here, supplied with real time sensor data so their vehicles can better understand their surroundings.
This deal heralds a landmark in auto-making, the first time three leading brands have agreed to pool resources, sharing data and it could signify the dawning of a properly ‘connected’ car industry. The technology that comes as result of this collaboration will also further invigorate the development of autonomous features on upcoming vehicles.
Alex Mangan, Here’s product marketing manager for connected driving, said: “We’re showing for the first time how you can take the value of rich sensor data coming from a vehicle and use it to do things that positively impact safety and efficiency,
“To make the most of connected systems, we all as an industry need each other. The cars need sensor data, and with this kind of agreement a Toyota vehicle, for example, can have an understanding of what the JLR car saw down the road if everyone’s involved.”
It’s Mangan’s belief that with three of the world’s largest car manufacturers already on board, more are likely to follow suit. He said up until this point, progress had been sluggish.
“It’s an interesting time because every single OEM knows that in order to do the things they want to do, they need to share data,” he said. “But when it comes to the actual implementation, they think they still need to differentiate, so their data isn’t immediately comparable.”
This is the true challenge facing Mangan and his colleagues at Here.
“The data coming from a BMW 3 Series is very different from a BMW 5 Series, and then it’s even more difficult from an Audi and Mercedes.
“Normalising data sets is therefore a massive challenge. We have to do a lot of processing in the cloud, and then make sense of that so the systems can say there’s an actual hazard at this place at this time,” he explained.
The more brands that join the collaboration will be able to contribute their analysis of the data and form a sort of global automotive cloud, which once normalised, will essentially act as an Internet of Things (IOT) for the motor industry and automotive world.
“We don’t want to take over the world here, we want to help people put location context into their services,” Morgan explained, “If that’s with IOT data, with vehicle data or with traffic management data, we’re interested.”
So far, the three German carmakers are the only manufacturers to have definitely signed up to the scheme but it’s expected more will follow in the coming months.