When I arrived in Las Vegas for CES 2019, as guest of HERE Technologies, I was tired, fried and in the mood just one thing—to get to my hotel as soon as possible. But when I summoned Uber at the airport, it defaulted to Uber Pool. ‘How bad can that be?’ I asked myself. As it turns out, pretty bad.
Not only did we have to stop to pick up other people (thus the pool part), but the driver’s navigation kept throwing us off course. After the third, “I’m sorry, my map sent me to the wrong place”—I actually felt bad for my driver. Your map app is wrong? And you’re an Uber driver? That’s gotta blow.
Then I got to thinking, This Is Not What We Expect. Back when we were unfolding maps and actually reading them, if anything when wrong, you’d just glare at the person in the passenger seat. It was his/her fault. Now that technology is our co-driver, our expectations are higher. And if THAT fails us, we are astounded. We expect more! Much more. At this point, we expect perfection, and we want it now!
So as our cars transition to autonomy and our world becomes more and more reliant on technology both in and out of the car, does the quality of your map really matter? I dove into the question of advanced mapping and location data with HERE technologies and the answer is yes. Here’s why:
A really simple way to think about the role of mapping with autonomous cars is this—if no one is driving, who is reading the road signs? “Yield”, “Exit In 2 Miles”, or even “Roadblock Ahead” are pretty important things to register behind the wheel.
HERE Technologies makes 5 million changes to their maps every day. And thank God they do, because if I drive up PCH with my navigation and then I find that Malibu Canyon is closed but Google Maps doesn’t know that, I am furious (true story!). Knowing that the HERE HD Live Map can power this, I feel a lot better about letting my car take the wheel.
Personally I hate it when my navigation says, ‘turn left in 300 feet.’ I get so frazzled trying to imagine how far 300 feet is. I usually start by envisioning multiples of my husband’s body (in this case there’d be 50 of him) laid on the road and frankly, it’s distracting—do I run him over or not run him over? (Of course, the answer depends on his recent ability to empty the dishwasher, but I digress… ) HERE just announced that they’ve partnered with Amazon to bring Alexa integration into cars. Imagine the world’s smartest assistant, powered by badass location services, that can now tell me ‘turn left at the post office.’ No confusion, no measuring, no roadside bodies. Everybody wins.
INDOOR LOCATION MAPPING
I write about cars, right? So who cares about indoor mapping? Sorry but I do. Because when my map thinks I’m on the street but I’m still in the parking lot, things get ugly. But HERE takes this one step further. Imagine a delivery to your office building, but you’re on the 42nd floor in your cubicle and too lazy to pick your lunch in the lobby. HERE makes this location data possible. Important? Well if you value ramen like I do, the answer is a clear yes. Or, more to the point, imagine that this delivery is an EMT worker and you’re having a heart attack—you want them to find you at the right place..and quick!
Again, who cares about Fleets? Well I do if my Amazon driver is in one and I’m out of coffee! If you don’t know what a fleet is, think of it as a group of trucks, cars or vans managed by one company. Amazon, Fedex, UPS, etc all have very active, very important fleets. HERE showed us that they have a new Fleet management system that integrates with real-time mapping to help fleets make route adjustments on the fly, creating greater efficiency and frankly lower costs to the consumer. Super cool. And if you think about UBER as a fleet, well then, now we’re really talking.
Many of you are abundantly aware of the fact that automotive is rapidly becoming a industry driven by technology. Frankly, I never thought this would be something that would interest me, not to mention excite me. But the more I learn about these advancements, the more thrilled I am about our future. Will cars die? No. Will they transform? Yes. They already are. Does this mean that car culture is dead—hell no. In fact, as technology becomes more and more reliable, this will free us up to do even cooler things with our cars—like cover them in marshmallows or covert the interior into a mosh pit. I have no idea exactly what that looks like, I’m really looking forward to finding out!