As carmakers and technology companies work to put fully driverless cars on the roads, one group's contribution to autonomous vehicles will be crucial: digital mapping firms.
These firms have an important role to play in providing self-driving vehicles with the location data, digital maps and localisation services they will need to navigate safely and efficiently.
This week, in a move intended to strengthen its position in the autonomous driving market, navigation devices manufacturer TomTom announced that it had acquired a German autonomous driving software and services start-up called Autonomos.
Harold Goddijn, CEO and co-founder of TomTom, said: "This is an important development for TomTom as it will help us to continue to strengthen our capabilities for the future of driving and expand our knowledge and expertise.
"With this deal we are further positioning ourselves as one of the leaders in autonomous driving".
Autonomos has provided research & development consultancy services for automated vehicle assistance systems.
In the process, it has built up its expertise and technologies – including a full range of autonomous driving software, 3D sensor technology and digital image processing.
The team from Autonomos will work on enhancing TomTom's mapping products for autonomous driving applications.
TomTom said that having an in-house autonomous driving stack would allow it to better serve customers with its products, which include an HD map, RoadDNA localisation technology and navigation, traffic and other cloud services.
"We are proud to have been selected by the world leader in map making for bringing autonomous driving together to the next level," says Tinosch Ganjineh, CEO and co-founder of Autonomos.
"TomTom's technology combined with our intelligent driving know-how are a perfect match to make the dream of self-driving cars become a reality".
Autonomous, based in Berlin, Germany, was set up in 2012. Its founders had previously worked on several successful autonomous driving research projects at the Free University of Berlin.
It has since grown to a team of more than 30 software engineers in Berlin and Frankfurt.