Huawei applies for license to make high-precision digital maps, heralds a move further into self-driving sector

By Shen Weiduo Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/9 19:48:41

Huawei, the Chinese technology giant caught amid the ongoing China-US trade war, has applied for a license to make high-precision digital maps, a move that an industry analyst said could ramp up the company's efforts to develop and launch autonomous driving solutions and expand its sphere of business.

According to a statement on the official website of China's Ministry of Natural Resources, the application from Beijing Huawei Digital Technologies Co, a subsidiary of Huawei, together with six other companies, was approved and is open for public comment from July 5 to Thursday. 

Huawei will officially be allowed to enter the high-precision digital mapping industry from that point.

Huawei said it "had not heard about the matter" when contacted by the Global Times.

Analysts said that high-precision digital maps are a significant and necessary step for self-driving technology, but they may stay in the research and development period for years before the technology can finally be commercialized.

"The application is obviously a major step for Huawei's ambition to explore the autonomous driving sector. In other words, Huawei wants to make itself an integrator that can make both hardware and software in the industry," Feng Shiming, a car analyst at Shanghai-based Menutor Consulting, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Huawei has repeatedly stated that it would not make cars. While focusing on information and communication technology, Huawei aims to enable original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of cars to build smarter vehicles to facilitate evolutionary changes in the auto industry, Huawei Rotating Chairman Eric Xu said in April.

Xu said that the products Huawei will offer to automotive OEMs include mobile data centers, cloud services for autonomous driving, 4G/5G in-vehicle communication modules, and Huawei HiCar people-car-home connectivity solutions for all scenarios.

"Without making cars, if the company can successfully acquire the core technologies of all the software and hardware needed by self-driving vehicles, it will have more of a say in the smart car industrial chain, even more so than firms who make the cars themselves," Feng said. "And by then, Huawei's technology prowess in the sector would be like the combination of Intel and Microsoft's influence on the global computer industry chain."


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