Weekly Brief: BMW, Daimler & Audi poised for acquisition of Nokia HERE

In this week’s Brief: BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, Nokia HERE, Facebook, Uber, Baidu, Fiat Chrysler, Renault, Peugeot, Ford, Toyota, General Motors, Facebook, Baidu, TomTom, Bosch, The Security and Privacy in Your Car (SPY Car) Act, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Trade Commission, Charlie Miller, Chris Valasek, JEEP, Wired Magazine, Honda, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, eCall and Collision Call.


We're almost there: BMW, Daimler and Audi are reportedly on the verge of purchasing the HERE maps division from Nokia. The Wall Street Journal and others have reported that the automakers are offering $2.71 billion and are poised to end months of rumors that suggested everyone from social media titan Facebook to ridesharing platform Uber to Chinese search engine giant Baidu were on the precipice of closing the deal.


According to the BMW Blog, BMW, Daimler and Audi will offer the HERE platform to all automakers for free without licensing issues. Fiat Chrysler, Renault, Peugeot, Ford, Toyota and General Motors, all existing HERE customers, will stay onboard. Facebook and Baidu currently use Nokia HERE for their maps; we’ll see if they remain clients moving forward if the deal comes to fruition.


Sticking with maps, Nokia HERE and TomTom each fired shots in the battle for automated driving clients.


First, TomTom announced a new initiative with Bosch in which its providing high precision maps for automated vehicles that Bosch is testing in Germany and the U.S. “Only with high precision maps will automated driving on freeways be possible from 2020,” said Bosch board member Dirk Hoheisel. TomTom says it plans to have new high-precision maps for automated driving for all freeways and freeway-like roads in Germany by the end of 2015.


Nokia HERE responded with news that it’s making high-def mapping data of sections of public roads in four countries available to all automotive companies to support their highly automated vehicle initiatives. The countries are the U.S., Germany, France and Japan. HERE has been developing its HD map using its LiDAR-equipped data capture vehicles and advanced processing technologies. As part of that effort, HERE has mapped several private test tracks for automated driving projects.


In other news, cyberhacking continues to dominate media coverage of the connected car. Last week’s major headline focused on Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, a notorious (though benign) pair of American car hackers who were able to hack their way into a JEEP SUV via its infotainment system and wreak havoc on the driver, a writer for Wired Magazine. You can read the Wired story here. Fiat Chrysler already responded with a software patch. Read our full TU-Auto analysis here.  


U.S. Senators decided that enough is enough and introduced the Security and Privacy in Your Car (SPY Car) Act, new legislation that would establish federal standards to secure cars against the threat of cyberhacking. Carmakers would have to protect against hacking at all access points to the car and integrate hacking mitigation technology that would help detect and report hacking episodes. They would also need to ensure data security for all information collected from the car (whether stored on-board, in transit or stored off-board).


A second component of The SPY Car Act entails data security standards that ensure that drivers know what information is being collected and stored and gives them an option to opt out of such collection unless it relates to safety or regulatory systems. A new “cyber dashboard” would display how well each car protects both the security and privacy of vehicle owners beyond these minimum standards, with the car’s score being prominently displayed on the windshield on dealer lots.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would act as the authority in consultation with the Federal Trade Commission.


Honda upgraded its Silicon Valley R&D centre to a new facility with a new focus: advancing connected mobility. Honda used the press event to unveil the 2016 Accord, the first Honda to feature both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Honda also announced a new open innovation R&D initiative, Honda Xcelerator, that will provide resources to breakthrough technology innovators to help rapidly develop prototypes with the potential to transform the automotive experience.


On the augmented reality front, Volkswagen integrated an option for head-up displays across its 2016 Passat range in Europe. The head-up display projects relevant information about driving and navigation onto the driver’s field of vision courtesy of a slide-out pane in front of the windshield. Info includes speed, traffic signs and arrows for navigation. Cost is €560.


Returning to TomTom, the mapmaker said that its automotive business contracted 15% in the second quarter of 2015, largely due to flagging portable navigation device sales. Fleet telematics sales were up, however, as was overall revenue. The company says that to position itself for growth on the automotive front moving forward, it will continue shifting its emphasis from devices to a transcription-based mapping platform that provides accurate, near real-time maps for navigation applications and driver assistance applications, including highly automated driving.


Finally, thanks to the passage of eCall, come 2018 all new cars in Europe must be outfitted with telematics technology that automatically dials 112 in the case of an accident. But what happens to the millions of cars already on the road? Enter Dutch inventor Ramon Veneman, whose new smartphone app “Collision Callautomatically calls and alerts emergency services after a heavy collision. The app measures G-forces that occur during a collision; if those forces exceed a certain level dangerous to humans, the app automatically calls the alarm number in the country and sends e-mails to programmed contacts like family members and friends. The app costs $1.99 and is available today on iTunes and Google Play.


The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.


Andrew Tolve is a regular TU contributor.

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