Southeast Asian ride-hailing unicorn Grab has struck a deal with Here Technologies, maker of Here Maps. The company says this will improve accuracy of fare estimations, estimated time of arrival for rides, and routing of drivers to passenger pick-ups and their destinations.
The map-maker’s location services for Grab include Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. It will provide features like places of interest and real-time traffic data, sourced by connected vehicles and devices.
The company’s mapping cars use cameras and LiDAR technology to capture data like road geometry, speed limits, and road signs, creating 3D maps that are also readable by automated systems.
For those who only used iPhones circa 2012-2014, Here was the result of a number of business deals and tech development by phone maker Nokia. The Here Maps app was a hallmark of the Lumia smartphones, both before and after their acquisition by Microsoft.
Here is exploring navigation for autonomous cars, drones, and other robotics applications.
In 2014, the app became available on Android as well – arguably the only online maps out there that could match Google Maps for accuracy and features at the time. It came to iOS a year later.
In 2015, Nokia sold Here to a consortium of automakers comprising BMW, Mercedes, and Audi for US$2.9 billion. Chinese digital mapping company NavInfo, Tencent, and Singaporean sovereign fund GIC share a 10 percent stake in the company since last year, while Intel acquired a 15 percent stake in January, according to Reuters.
Here chief executive Edzard Overbeek told the news agency last week that the company is exploring navigation for driverless cars but also autonomous drones and other robotics applications.
Last year, Grab collaborated with autonomous vehicle company Nutonomy on potential driverless rides, although there hasn’t been much news on that front lately.
Grab competitor Uber used Google Maps APIs for its app, briefly switching to a different provider before returning to Google’s system. But the US company has been building its own tech, complete with mapping tech-equipped cars, in order to reduce its dependence on external tools.
“Southeast Asia is developing quickly, with new roads and new rules emerging every day. By layering local map data on top of Here’s comprehensive location data, we can optimize driver-passenger interactions and further streamline our backend dispatch systems,” says Grab head of product Jerald Singh.
“We look forward to helping Grab streamline pick-up and drop-off processes, provide reliable ETAs, and ultimately improve traffic management in under-serviced cities like Yangon,” adds Mark Whitmore, director of Here Asia-Pacific.