Here Technologies has opened a new research and development office in Boulder that will focus on improving its futuristic mapping system to ultimately help autonomous vehicles.
The company — based in Amsterdam and majority owned by Audi, BMW and Daimler — is working on what it calls HD maps to help drivers and driverless cars get a more granular view of the road from car lanes to landmarks. The Boulder office will handle an additional feature to keep maps fresh so motorists are warned of lane closures, new accidents or other road conditions.
“Building a map like we’re building is a huge technology and investment. We’re talking hundreds of millions that are being invested in this type of content generation by Here for the next several years,” said Sanjay C. Sood, Here’s vice president of automated driving.
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Since Here has a limited fleet of road-data documenting cars, it hopes to soon rely on newer cars equipped with sensors, cameras and technology to offer “driver assist” features like changing lanes or slow a car down if it senses traffic is slowing. The Boulder group is working on perfecting incoming data, analyzing it and pushing it back out to vehicles for real-time warnings of new hazards and other traffic information.
Boulder was picked because there are geospatial location experts from related companies like DigitalGlobe and Mapquest who have been “looking for some really challenging problems to deal with,” said Carolyn Johnston, principal engineer and Here’s Boulder site leader. The Boulder office, at 4900 Pearl East Circle, employs about 20 people with plans to add 15 more in the future. The first cars with Here’s technology are expected in 2019.