Electronics giant LG and digital mapping company Here are teaming up on technology for self-driving cars. Neither company wants to develop its own autonomous vehicles, but LG and Here plan to supply tech they believe is crucial to automakers.
The two companies plan to focus on telematics, managing the massive amounts of data that self-driving cars are anticipated to both generate and consume. LG's expertise in managing wireless data transmission will be combined with Here's mapping expertise. Here is jointly owned by Audi, BMW, and Daimler, and has made automotive applications its main priority since being purchased by the carmakers.
Future self-driving cars are expected to rely heavily on digital maps to orient themselves (although Apple is developing an alternative navigation system). Those maps will need to be updated in real time as traffic patterns change due to construction and other factors. But that may just be the beginning.
LG wants to allow future autonomous cars to upload data from their onboard sensors, including cameras, radar, and lidar, to the cloud so that other vehicles can access it using vehicle-to-vehicle communication. This could alert cars of potential hazards or traffic in real time, and has the potential to improve how they drive. Tesla has used vehicle data to improve the performance of its Autopilot system, but a real-time link could speed up the process.
Given the amount of data that must be managed, self-driving cars could very well turn automotive suppliers into glorified IT companies, with telematics becoming as important as the hardware these companies traditionally specialize in. It's just one more way self-driving cars could change the automotive landscape.