Last week’s news that Amazon and Microsoft were both considering getting involved in the world of self-driving cars was no April Fools’ prank. This week, Daimler, the German automobile manufacturer that owns Mercedes-Benz, confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that the two tech giants were close to taking an ownership stake in Here, the digital mapping business for autonomous vehicles.
“We are talking to Amazon, Microsoft and many automakers.”
Here was purchased last December from Nokia by a consortium of German automakers, including BMW, Audi, and Mercedes for €2.8 billion, or just under $3 billion. A board member at Daimler confirmed that both Amazon and Microsoft were interested in providing cloud computing capabilities for the mounds of data being gathered by Here’s sensors for autonomous vehicles.
“We are talking to Amazon, Microsoft and many automakers,” Thomas Weber, a Daimler board member in charge of research and development, told the Journal. “We need a cloud provider to handle the huge amounts of data created by Here and its users. We haven’t taken any decisions yet.”
The deal, if reached, could further blur the line between Silicon Valley and traditional automakers in the quest to build better self-driving cars. Right now, Google’s fleet of autonomous vehicles are logging millions of miles driven, while Uber is expanding its AV research facilities in Pittsburgh. General Motors and Lyft are working together to create a fleet of self-driving, on-demand cars. And a host of other car companies, from Tesla to Ford, are fast at work on what many assume is the future of transportation.