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Subaru is the latest automaker to add what3words navigation

What3words divides the planet into 3×3m squares and assigns each one a randomly generated three-word address.
Enlarge / What3words divides the planet into 3×3m squares and assigns each one a randomly generated three-word address.


Infotainment systems have come a long way in the past couple of decades, driven in no small part by consumer demand for in-car navigation. But whether a system is powered by a Jones Live-Map or a constellation of Global Positioning System satellites, there’s one constant issue: Finding a precise location can be a real pain.

The most straightforward fix would be to use latitude and longitude coordinates, but most of us don’t speak latitude and longitude fluently, and even fewer of us know our addresses in those coordinates. That’s where what3words comes in. And on Wednesday, the company added Subaru to the list of automakers that it works with, joining Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, Lamborghini, Lotus, and Mitsubishi.

What3words is a mapping company that looks at navigation differently. It divides the planet into a grid of squares, each measuring 3×3 m. Each one of those squares gets its own identifier made up of three random words—hence the company’s name.

So, 1 World Trade Center, Ars Technica’s corporate HQ (as opposed to the orbiting one), includes the “squares” cycles.rugs.lucky, feels.thigh.bigger, and gifts.spray.ties.

The fact that this large building with a single street address (285 Fulton St.) can have multiple what3words addresses highlights the utility of this approach, which is magnified in the case of something like a stadium or industrial park. And since what3words’ grid is independent of street addresses, it means you can also use it for parks, hiking trails, or literally any other location on the planet.

For example, Subaru says that “an adventurous Subaru driver might enter ///costumes.plotted.notepad to navigate to the precise 10ft square in the Grand Canyon with the best view of the Kaibab Suspension Bridge across the Colorado River, or a Subaru Motorsports fan might use ///cautious.gladiator.bleary to meet friends at a spectator point during the New England Forest Rally and watch rally cars catch some air.”

Subaru says that what3words will be integrated into the new Outback.

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