HERE mapsAudi, BMW and Daimler have bought Nokia’s mapping company HERE this week in a €2.8bn (£2bn) deal – outbidding Uber in the process.

The deal is said to be a sign of intenet for the German premium brands’ autonomous car and ‘connected’ car intentions, for which highly accurate and constantly updated high-definition maps are crucial.

But it also guarantees the independence of a company that is already a core of the European and North American car industry – because four in five cars already on the road with sat nav use HERE maps.

The firm says that equals 10 million new cars sold each year.

A 30 year company

HERE has, in its various guises, been in business since 1985. It began as a startup mapping roads in San Francisco, which evolved into the well-known NAVTEQ company.

NAVTEQ maps were used in the first production car to offer satellite navigation, BMW’s 1994 7 Series. Nokia bought NAVTEQ in 2008.

Today, HERE has a fleet of cars mapping roads using LiDAR tech, part of 80,000 data sources for keeping its maps fresh. It also uses land registry data and even a global community of cartographers.

Right now, it’s using this data to build the all-important HD maps of the future, helping cars place themselves on the road with millimetre accuracy. Such maps will also enable real-time road condition services and help cars both predict and react to changes.

Will it help deliver the car makers’ self-driving response to the Google Car? £2 billion says it will…