How what3words and HERE maps could fix sat navs for good

Published: 26 October 2020

 HERE and what3words team up
 Now in 80% of new cars in NA and Western Europe
 Could make sat navs accurate in the long run

HERE maps and what3words have joined forces in what could be a huge move for autonomous tech, and your next car’s sat nav system. The partnership means what3words is now pre-baked into every car with HERE’s mapping service, and that’s 80% of new cars sold in North America and Western Europe.

What’s the big deal?

HERE is owned by a consortium that includes BMW, Audi and Daimler. Originally part of Nokia but purchased by the German automotive giants in 2015 for a cost of £2 billion, HERE is an open, cloud-based service that uses combination of 'static' data and real-time information.

At the time, the acquisition of HERE could’ve been seen as future-proofing; BMW, Audi and Daimler wouldn’t have to rely on tech giants like Google to provide mapping tech, and its high-resolution data was also tipped to be used later for autonomous driving. 

What about what3words?

At the same time, what3words has emerged as a more efficient yet human-centric way of pinpointing locations. It essentially divides the world into 3-metre squared locations which are given a three-word address. Not only does this make them easy to remember, it’s also far more accurate than the usual ways we locate things. 

The accuracy means what3words can direct you to particular car parks or entrances, instead of just a generic location. Think ‘take me to Silverstone Car Park Red,’ instead of just ‘Silverstone circuit’ and you’ve got the idea. The only issue? what3words needs businesses to actually utilise this extra layer detail.

Working together

Although used by emergency services and other niche groups, what3words has been unable to crack the mainstream audience. And while its accuracy has clear uses, it’s unlikely what3words will ever be able to usurp the common postcode. 

However, think of what3words as way of way improving accuracy – and one in the backend of millions of cars – and the move becomes far more significant. The new reach of what3words could mean that businesses and points of interest begin to tag far more detailed location data, and that can then be used by HERE tech. Its usefulness will only increase as voice-activated tech improves, too.

The result? Take me to Silverstone Car Park Red, will actually take you to the exact spot of misery you asked for. 

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

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