Uber and TomTom just got into bed together. On Thursday, the transportation giant signed a deal with the Dutch mapping company, allowing Uber to license TomTom’s mapping and traffic management services. The plan comes in the wake of a failed attempt to buy Nokia’s mapping business for a cool $3 billion earlier this year — Uber ultimately lost out in that particular bid to a German automaker consortium. While there’s no word yet on how much Uber spent to partner with TomTom, we can assume that licensing rights for the over 300 cities where Uber is active didn’t come cheap.
“We are excited to provide Uber with our best-in-class location data.” said Charles Cautley, Managing Director Maps & Licensing at TomTom, in a statement. “TomTom is a truly independent map provider with the platform for the future. With this platform, TomTom is the trusted partner for innovative and future-proof location technology for the global automotive and consumer technology industry.”
While Uber isn’t necessarily cutting ties with current providers like Apple and Google Maps, this latest move does suggest a more concerted effort from the ridesharing app to develop native navigation, mapping, and location services. But TomTom will only work on the driver’s side — passengers will not have access to the new mapping technology.
“We look forward to working with TomTom, a leader in the mapping and navigation space,” said Matt Wyndowe, head of product partnerships at Uber. “Their mapping and traffic data will help ensure we continue to provide a great experience for drivers everywhere.”
And in addition to a great experience for drivers, the new TomTom integration may help with Uber’s efforts in the self-driving car space. Back in August, Uber hired a couple guys who had made names for themselves by remotely hijacking a Jeep, and put them to work in the Pittsburgh office, where the company is also studying autonomous vehicles.
So navigate away, Uber. Because if having three mapping services doesn’t help get passengers from Point A to Point B in the most efficient way possible, I don’t know what it’ll take.
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