Apple has acquired Coherent Navigation, a small GPS startup that has supplied its mapping technology to the defense and airline industries.
The Bay Area company’s technology adds to Apple’s relatively young mapping and location efforts, with key members of Coherent Navigation joining Apple’s Maps team.
Coherent Navigation, which employs fewer than 10 people, was founded in 2008 and developed a high-precision navigation service that used the Iridium satellite network, according to the LinkedIn profile of its former CEO Paul Lego.
Iridium’s satellite constellation provides voice and data coverage for phones and other devices across the earth’s entire service.
Coherent Navigaion aimed its technology at agriculture, surveying, construction, mining, and oil and gas exploration, and provided services to the US government, drawing on its engineers’ experience in “precision navigation, differential GPS, hardware and software radio design, radio navigation, ionospheric physics, target tracking and sensor fusion, autonomous navigation and robotics, satellite mission operations”.
Other Coherent Navigation employees that have joined Apple Maps include its co-founders, William Bencze and and Brent Ledvina. Lego joined Apple in January, followed by the two co-founders in April. Lego was a one-time CEO of Dash Navigation, which BlackBerry bought in 2009.
Apple has tacitly acknowledged the acquisition, telling the New York Times: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” Apple has not disclosed the value of the the acquisition and did not respond to request for comment from ZDNet.
As noted by MacRumours, which first reported the acquisition, Coherent Navigation is the latest in a string of small purchases Apple has made in recent years to boost its mapping and location capabilities and ween itself off Google Maps. Among them include Locationary, PlaceBase, Poly9, HopStop, Embark and BroadMap.
The acquisition comes as mapping and location services increasingly become a key differentiator in connected devices, including smartphones and connected vehicles.
A consortium of German vehicle manufacturers is thought to be bidding for Nokia’s mapping and location business Here, reportedly to prevent it being acquired by a Silicon Valley company which would control of technology that the car makers see as vital for self-driving cars. Equally with an eye on autonomous vehicles, ride-hailing service Uber is also reportedly among a handful of companies vying for Here.
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