Amazon is eyeing a stake in high-definition digital mapping company HERE and is in talks with a consortium of German carmakers – Audi, BMW and Mercedes, according to a report in Reuters.
The news comes after one source familiar with the talks said, "Amazon would take a stake as part of a broader deal to lock them in as a provider of cloud computing services."
Originally developed by Nokia for Android, iOS and Windows Phone platforms, the mapping business was bought by Audi, BMW and Mercedes collectively for 2.5 billion Euros ($2.8 billion). The consortium plans to develop the system for their self driving cars. Since then, the consortium has started negotiations with potential new partners, mainly from the automotive industry.
However, a tie up with ecommerce giant Amazon works perfectly for everyone as well. HERE is focused on being cloud based and Amazon's involvement with cloud infrastructures for huge companies, like Apple, could make it a perfect candidate to serve data for in-car mapping.
Cloud computing ensures that maps can cope with live updates on traffic and road conditions using data collected from sensors on thousands of Mercedes, BMW and Audi cars. It is this capability that attracted the consortium towards HERE in the first place.
Intelligent mapping systems like HERE's are the basis on which self-driving cars, linked to wireless networks, can perform functions such as recalculating a route to the nearest electric charging station or around a traffic jam or ice patch. This technology will prove to be extremely beneficial for Amazon which is rolling out new one- and two-hour delivery services in major cities in the United States and Europe. This will require accurate, real-time maps to compete with rivals for the best logistics.
For the consortium, having more partners will spread the cost and could improve the volume of data about traffic information being fed to the map from vehicles on the road. For online retailer Amazon it will speed up their deliveries and give them a chance to invest in a new technology.
Though the news is yet to be confirmed by Amazon, the sources have been inclining towards the news being true. Commenting on the same, BMW said, "The new owners Audi, Daimler and BMW have said from the start that they are open for new partners to join. We have noticed that there is lots of interest not only from potential partners from within the automotive industry, but also from other sectors."