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Mercedes-Benz adopts word-based coordinate system

by John Bambridge on Sep 13, 2017

A Mercedes-Benz at an example what3words address in Andalusia, Spain.
A Mercedes-Benz at an example what3words address in Andalusia, Spain.
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Mercedes-Benz will be the first automotive manufacturer to adopt an innovative address system that divides the world into 57 trillion 3m X 3m squares, each with a unique three word sequence.

The system is called what3words, and was founded in 2013 to provide every location in Earth easily and unambiguously identifiable – even where there are no addresses, in areas that are remote from urban centres.

“With what3words’ easy address entry method, we’re adding another logical element to our navigation system,” said Sajjad Khan, vice president for digital vehicle and mobility at Daimler.

“You can enter your destination by speaking just three words and be guided there to within an accuracy of nine square metres, anywhere in the world. All I can say is: simple, ingenious, innovative.”

Although every location on Earth can be identified by its GPS coordinates, Daimler notes that complex sequences of numbers can be hard to remember, while conventional can be imprecise or ambiguous, e.g. if there are multiple streets with the same name.

The what3words algorithm uses a vocabulary of 25,000 words in such a way that combinations that are liable to be confused are also kept well apart – so that both humans and machines can easily notice mistakes when entering an address. The system is also available in 14 languages.

If ‘lottery.jotting.inched’ is entered as the destination, what3words will navigate the user to the world’s first petrol station in Wiesloch, south of Frankfurt, where there is a plaque in memory of the pioneering first journey made by Bertha Benz.

It was this simple and ingenious idea that won the attention of Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and led to the system’s selection in February 2017 for the second round of the ‘Startup Autobahn’ platform.

Now, within the next six months, Mercedes-Benz will become the first automotive manufacturer to exclusively unveil the address system as a standard navigation solution in a car.