Here Technologies: How location intelligence plays a crucial role in today’s self-driving & supply chain

Here Technologies: How location intelligence plays a crucial role in today’s self-driving & supply chain.Source: HERE

How location intelligence plays a crucial role in self-driving and supply chain

  • HERE supplies next-generation navigation software to multiple global automotive OEMs, with the latest collaboration being with Vietnam’s VinFast.
  • Tech Wire Asia in conversation with HERE Technologies SVP and General Manager APAC Jason Jameson, discussed how location intelligence and geospatial thinking are key to strengthening supply chains.

When a group of German auto companies bought Nokia’s pioneering digital navigation platform HERE Technologies in 2015, it was a part of a larger vision involving the production of self-driving cars in the not-too-distant future. After all, HERE is known for its mapping technology and its ability to create ‘location intelligence’ for the many different connected ‘things’.

In fact, HERE became among the world’s first companies to provide an HD map for commercial production vehicles with level three automated driving capabilities. Industry analysts at Strategy Analytics even ranks HERE Technologies as the top location platform for its map-making, automotive and industry vision growth. Not only does it dominate the automotive market, HERE has also been making headway into other markets such as transportation & logistics — as companies increasingly want enterprise-grade, highly accurate maps for multiple uses.

HERE is top in five of seven of the categories used by Strategy Analytics to rate location platforms, including mapmaking, automotive, and industry vision and growth.
Source: Strategy Analytics

During a media roundtable held in Bangkok recently, HERE Technologies announced that VinFast, Vietnam’s leading manufacturer of premium automobiles, will be integrating the HERE ISA Map into the VinFast VF 8 and VF 9 electric sport utility vehicles (SUVs) for the European markets. For context, ISA is an in-vehicle driver assistance feature that seeks to reduce the number of road accidents and traffic casualties. It informs drivers about a road’s speed limit and warns them if they exceed the speed limit. 

Starting this month, ISA is mandatory for all new-model cars, vans, trucks and buses produced for the European markets. From July 2024 onwards, automakers must equip every new vehicle sold in the EU with ISA functionality. That said, the HERE ISA Map will be available in the VinFast VF 8 and VF 9 electric SUVs in Europe from the second half of 2022. 

What does HERE offer?

Basically, HERE’s open location platform is used as the building block for IoT to deliver its mapping and location technology to a variety of use cases and vertical applications. It works as a marketplace where a variety of businesses can leverage its mapping and geospatial data, SDKs, and APIs through a licensing model. Buyers can then monetize the licensed technology by adding value on top of this tool kit by building their own applications. Given its extensive list of automotive investors, stakeholders and customers, HERE has allocated resources for developing automotive services applications. 

These services include data insight into weather, traffic, fuel, electric vehicle (EV) charging and parking; they can range in deployment from being embedded into an automobile’s infotainment system to being leveraged by a mobile application. HERE provides the underlying mapping infrastructure for fleet management usage, with extensions for geofencing, waypoint sequencing and usage-based insurance (UBI).

HERE also rolls out specific applications geared toward connected, semi-autonomous and fully autonomous automobiles. It is proving its machine-learning capabilities through sensor-level analysis across disparate vehicles with its next-generation automotive service applications that analyze vehicle sensor data for several automotive OEMs.

Tech Wire Asia had the chance to sith with HERE Technologies’ SVP and General Manager for APAC Jason Jameson in Bangkok to discuss the company’s role in today’s autonomous driving industry as well as how location intelligence could well be the holy grail in today’s complicated supply chain. 

Autonomous driving is still fairly new in Asia Pacific so how would you reckon the ADAS technology is setting afoot here?

One of the main trends that we’re seeing within the automotive industry is connected vehicles which will then be followed by automated driving, which will be based on the SAE levels. It stands from Level 0 (no driving automation) to Level 5 (full driving automation). At this point, most are mastering the level three where drivers can actually disengage and that is where HERE comes, as among the world’s first companies to provide an HD map for commercial production vehicles with level three automated driving capabilities.

HERE Technologies SVP and General Manager APAC Jason Jameson.
Source: HERE

So what we need in Asia for autonomous driving to be viable is to have high definition maps, fairly advanced vehicle capabilities along with real time sensors since a lot of processing needs to happen constantly. There’s also connectivity requirements, especially with the accelerated rollout of 5G recently. While all this is common in places like Europe and North America, it’s less so in Asia at this point, but it will come soon.

At this point, level two is where most of the action will be because of economics and the high cost to support autonomous driving. China is fairly advanced in terms of autonomous driving in this part of the world. We have an absolutely big Chinese market but it’s mainly with the local OEMs which in turn would sell our products and services to the rest of the world

How have maps changed over the years for HERE and for the world in general?

Previous versions of digital maps represent each road with an approximate centerline, along with a collection of basic attributes, such as speed limit and travel direction. Today’s applications require vastly more detailed information that is spatially accurate down to the smallest detail. Contemporary HD map applications require detailed lane information, including the precise location of lane boundaries, width, and how they interconnect. Scaling globally with this level of detail requires focusing on automated feature detectors, such as those presented.

HERE uses these features to create logical structures of HD maps that capture lane extent, connectivity, travel direction, and access characteristics. This requires further automation with sophisticated, structured models to capture interdependencies of all detected features, lane geometry, and map attributes. Since data is used to position and navigate a vehicle within a lane, it must be accurate to the centimeter. This additional effort means automation is even more critical.

That being said, vehicle navigation today is getting more real time and more dynamic so the need for the freshest map with freshest traffic data such as hazard warnings and other alerts available is in demand. Another trend that we are realizing is the demand for private maps by companies especially those with warehouses and extensive outdoor operations.

Which industry do you think optimizes location intelligence the most?

So industries where there’s high value assets like equipment deliveries that need to be tracked, and also last mile is an area where we’ve got some very good partnerships. In essence, the abstraction of the location intelligence platform has given a new shape to every business field. We all might agree to the fact that it is hard to find an organization that is not utilizing location intelligence to serve its customers in a better way. 

In fact, location intelligence technology is progressing at a faster pace. Companies are finding novel use cases for location analytics ranging from logistics management, field force tracking, and monitoring to supply chain management. Taking transport and logistics organizations in particular, those industries are utilizing location intelligence software to optimize their supply chain and reduce slowdown in product deliveries. In short, location analytics play a vital tool role in planning, tracking, and monitoring the first and last-mile deliveries.

Considering how supply chain was the focus over the last two years, how has HERE been dealing with it and how do you see the industry faring in a post-Covid world?

The supply chain went through an actual structural shift over the last two years because people now know that they can order online. That has created all this pressure on warehousing, transportation and deliveries. We’re seeing a renewed focus on location because if you can give an accurate ETA to your end customer, you can retain them. So that’s certainly a big transformation in the way location has been used, and in more parts of the supply chain, tracking is getting better. 

Warehouses are moving from a ‘just-in-time’ approach to ‘just-in-case’, which may require them to run high levels of inventory at various stages of the supply chain, in diverse locations. So location intelligence is going to become very important because you need to know where your customers are so you can optimize where to store your inventory in case of breakages or blockages like the Suez Canal incident. So to be able to have some resiliency, transparency is one of the most critical success factors for an integrated supply chain and for that, location is super important.

What trends will contribute to the picking up of location intelligence?

Sustainability is going to be a macro trend because governments are committing to things like reducing carbon emissions. Therefore gaining visibility into your supply chain is absolutely necessary. If you have visibility across a complex, multimodal supply chain, if you can understand where emissions are coming from and which routes or modes of transportation are likely causing more emissions, you can start the first steps of sustainability planning.

Regulation will no doubt continue to add pressure on logistics companies to make their supply chains more sustainable. All in all, sustainability is probably the biggest trend and it will affect everybody.