Vienna home to new AI geolocation research lab for ‘self-healing’ maps

15 Feb 2019

Image: © maria_savenko/

Nokia mapping spin-out Here has revealed it is backing a new AI geolocation research lab in Vienna to the tune of more than €25m.

While Google Maps may dominate the digital cartography space in the online world, there are a number of competitors making serious headway in this arena. Among them is the Netherlands-based Nokia spin-out Here, which is looking to use the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology to develop its own Here WeGo map platform.

The company has announced that it is establishing a new Institute for Advanced Research in Artificial Intelligence (IARAI) in Vienna, Austria. It claims will be the world’s first global machine-learning (ML) research institute to use industrial-scale geolocation data.

Working independently of Here, the research lab will work with ML technology needed for mapping within autonomous vehicles, including locations awareness, optimised fleet management within cities and even ‘self-healing’ maps that can be altered in close to real time.

Over a five-year period, Here will provide the institute with more than €25m in financial assistance to support the IARAI’s development, including funding for the lab space and approximately 30 research positions.

The research lab will be led by two ML experts: Dr Sepp Hochreiter, an AI pioneer and inventor of the long short-term memory neural network framework, from Johannes Kepler University in Linz; and Dr David Kreil, a leader in data science from Boku University in Vienna.

“The IARAI is our gateway to build the next generation of location services, from self-healing maps to high-level automation, through leading-edge AI research,” said Peter Kürpick, the newly appointed CTO at Here.

“Here sits on unique data and mapping assets. By focusing on deep learning and the large-scale testing of that data, the institute will expand our understanding of how location can be represented through neural networks, the core components that will fuel these next-level location services.”

This isn’t the first time that AI has been used for cartography. Last year, scientists from MIT detailed a recent AI that can observe satellite imagery of urban areas and create detailed maps by determining where unmapped roads are.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic