Bosch and Continental Buy Stakes in Digital Mapping Company Here

Here is already owned by three automakers.

Continental

Big-time automotive suppliers Bosch and Continental are preparing for the future of self-driving cars by investing in Here, the digital mapping company owned by Audi, BMW, and Daimler. Here's digital maps and related technology will be crucial to making autonomous cars practical.

Bosch and Continental each purchased a 5-percent stake in Here for undisclosed sums. Here was created by Nokia, but was purchased by the German automakers in 2015 for $3.4 billion, according to Reuters. Intel also has a 15-percent stake in the company.

Both Bosch and Continental see value in Here's ability to offer data-based services. At CES 2018, Here will demonstrate a cloud-based system that warns drivers of potential road hazards. It will also show a telematics system for self-driving cars co-developed with LG.

In a statement, Continental said it hoped to collaborate with Here on a high-definition live map for self-driving cars, and investigate other potential uses for Here's trove of map data. Bosch discussed similar goals, as well as applying Here's expertise in data management to non-automotive applications, such as smart homes.

All of Here's stakeholders will likely try to leverage the company's map data for future self-driving cars. Autonomous vehicles need high-quality digital maps to navigate, so whoever controls that data will have a major advantage. Here and its backers have the makings of an alliance that can challenge Google, which has both an extensive cache of map data, and one of the largest self-driving car programs.

All of this maneuvering demonstrates how autonomous driving will about more than cars. Companies will have to do more than build self-driving cars. They'll also have to support them with data and create infrastructure to manage the flow of that data.