Jaguar Land Rover rolls out what3words geocoding tech to vehicles already on the road

Jaguar Land Rover is the latest automaker to integrate geocoding company what3words into its cars and SUVs.

JLR said Thursday that it will incorporate both its new and used vehicles with the voice-activated what3words system, which divides the world into a grid to give each 100-square-foot area an address of three random words. The rollout means an estimated 350,000 vehicles will have the system. Drivers can use the system to navigate to any precise location worldwide, even without a data connection.

Navigation systems are becoming a key differentiator for car companies as they focus on screen size and digital features instead of the hardware under the hood. At least eight automakers, including Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Lamborghini, have integrated what3words technology into their vehicles so far this year.

JLR is the first to deliver it to vehicles already on the road through an over-the-air update. The rollout with JLR is through a partnership between what3words and Here Technologies. In 2020, the two companies teamed up to allow OEMs using Here’s navigation platform to include what3words as an in-car nav feature directly through the Here Search API.

The announcement is the latest example of how infotainment systems in vehicles have become a battleground for tech companies.

Apple announced Monday updates to its next-generation CarPlay system, which will power the vehicle’s entire instrument cluster. Its displays will go beyond navigation and infotainment features to provide information on the vehicle’s speed, climate control and other diagnostics. Last month, Google announced upgrades to Android Auto to accommodate for larger screens by allowing split-screen displays.

What3words assigns a unique combination of three words to 57 trillion 10-foot by 10-foot squares of Earth. It’s more accurate than traditional voice-based navigation systems, which tend to provide a list of most likely matches rather than a precise destination.

For example, a driver who needs to go to 23 Park Avenue in New York can say “Take me to sugar.laptop.sheep,” allowing the system to bypass the other 450 streets named “Park” in New York.

However, security researchers have concerns about the system’s reliability, finding that the voice commands may route the system to a different location whose three words sound similar.

What3words and other advanced navigation systems also serve as a stepping stone for eventual self-driving cars to navigate to precise pre-programmed destinations. Here’s end-to-end system provides real-time traffic data, turn-by-turn guidance and information to find on- and off-street parking.