Our Autonomous Future: Don’t Panic, HERE’s Got You

(This is a HERE Technologies sponsored post.) Let’s face it– the future is scary as hell. What will we be eating? Where will we be living? And what will our grandchildren be talking about when they say “I can’t believe you didn’t you know that was bad for you.”  So when I was invited to the Consumer Electronics Show with HERE Technologies, one of the leading players in autonomous driving, I thought.. nah, that’s not for me. I’m gonna stay home and change my oil, but thanks. But then I thought, oh wait — I’m always complaining about terrible navigation and how awful the transition to autonomy will be, let’s see what these bigshots have up their sleeve.

So, let’s start with the show. CES is basically Comic Con for brainiacs, entrepreneurs & anything with a battery.  And this thing is huge. How huge? Oh dunno, how about 2.6 million square feet. (You bet I brought Band-Aids)

And who are HERE Technologies? Simply put: They’re the map dudes.  Maps, you say? Who cares. I’ve got Waze, Google maps and Tom Tom (hahahaha).  Right well, let’s just put it this way, if your driverless car is gonna put you and your family on a freeway going 70 mph, it had better know where it’s going. Right? So why these guys? Well, HERE currently powers 4 out of 5 of the in-car navigation on the road in Europe in North America today. So mapping’s kinda their thing.  As a company, they’re a bunch of brainiacs. I haven’t met so many people with a Dr. title since my last boob job, I mean, c-section.

What happened at CES? First, they showed me this:

Nice try, map-guys, trying to lure me with the delicious interface of the Audi A8.  It almost worked.  Then they told me that thanks to HERE, the A8 has stuff like this:

Let’s take Predictive Navigation. WTF is that? Well, the map can analyze your behavior and suggest routes and paths based on where it thinks you’re headed next.  So if you get in your kid’s car and it suggests “Mr. Green’s” on Ventura Boulevard, you may need to have a serious talk.

HERE not only partners with Audi, but also BMW and Daimler (you know, the Mercedes people) too. At CES, HERE also announced that thanks to this partnership, their maps will be powered by collective user data. So as your G wagon sits stuck in traffic, that data goes to the cloud and gets translated so that can tell me, in my X5m behind you, to take another route. It’s functions like this that will make the maps that much more useful and as HERE puts it, Self-Healing.

These maps are not only dynamic and self-healing but they’re also HD. Why HD? Because for your autonomous car to know what to do after that enormous building, it kind of has to see through it. And now, it can.

HERE is doing all kinds of other cool stuff like mapping the space between buildings in urban areas to help drones navigate. They’re also helping Angelinos get to Sin City quicker than you can say “Bachelorette Party.”

I know. That is a little fast, even for me. But not when you’ve got one of these:

Yup, this is Virgin’s Hyperloop One.  The thing that Elon Musk got all excited about and then passed the baton to Richard Branson to execute. HERE and Hyperloop have partnered to create an app that can help a person not only get to the Hyperloop, but also to the end of their route by including everything else, including indoor walking. Despite the fact that the Hyperloop isn’t quite ready for public use yet, the app is. So in the next few months, we’ll be able to use the app and get excited about the future.

And that’s honestly how I felt after spending a few days around the people at HERE. They are clearly working incredibly hard to take all of the good technology and make our future a brighter, easier, safer place.  And that’s just great because if we can take the headaches out of daily driving that won’t mean the death of car culture, it will just become that much more special. I’m in!

 

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