A London tech start-up which allows users to navigate to any corner of the globe with just three words has gone into partnership with Ford.

What3Words, which has attracted £45m of investment, has split the globe into 3x3m squares and allocated each with a three-word ‘address’ such as drove.market.purple. The technology is driven by artificial intelligence and easily accessed through the company’s app.

Now millions of Ford drivers in Europe and North America will now be able to use what3words location technology to help them navigate with ease through Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment platform.

The new partnership with the first volume car-maker means drivers can enter precise destinations by voice or text input easier, faster and with fewer errors than ever before. It also enables them to navigate to any spot on the planet; including those without an address.

The system is available in 26 languages, works offline and has built-in error prevention so the driver doesn’t end up at the wrong place.

What3Words’ algorithm translates every set of GPS coordinates – 57 trillion of them – to a unique combination of three words.

Street addresses weren’t created for the way the world navigates today. A recent study found that 74 per cent of UK residents have a home address that people, deliveries and services struggle to find. Addresses can be long, complex and vary in format, which makes them frustrating for drivers to input.

A postcode can cover large areas, rather than specific entrances, and street names are not unique – there are 14 Church Roads in London. Importantly, street addresses don’t cover everywhere – parks, industrial complexes, beaches and sports fields are off limits to many navigation systems. 

The added precision, ease-of-use and universal coverage of what3words is why people and businesses around the world are adopting the system.

The initial rollout will enable Ford drivers to simply connect the free what3words app – on an iOS or Android device – to their vehicle via their SYNC 3 infotainment platform.

They can then input a three word address by voice or text, in six languages, and navigate to that precise 3m x 3m square. Drivers can find the  three word address on website contact pages, guidebooks and business cards – wherever they’d find a regular street address.

Chris Sheldrick, CEO and co-founder of what3words, said: “We are more mobile than ever before, but with that comes its challenges. The growing traction that what3words is gaining within the automobility industry is a testament to how we are improving journeys and customer experiences.

“Our partnership with Ford cuts through common driver frustrations, for the first time offering precise navigation by voice to accurate addresses. We are on a mission to help everyone talk about everywhere and we are very excited to be able to bring our technology to the Ford community.”

 Don Butler, executive director, Connected Vehicle Platform and Product, Ford, added: From commercial vehicle drivers working from a mobile office to those driving for leisure on-the-go connectivity is now more important than ever,” said Don Butler, executive director, Connected Vehicle Platform and Product, Ford.

“With the addition of what3words to the AppLink and wider SmartDeviceLink ecosystem, Ford is providing an important new tool to help get the job done, enabling drivers to navigate to their destinations – wherever they may be – quickly, confidently and accurately.”

The Ford deal follows a decision by Mercedes-Benz to invest in the company and utilise its tech.

What3Words’ 100-strong workforce is mostly based in London, although it has teams in Silicon Valley, South Africa, the Middle East and even Mongolia.

A special report on what3words will be appearing in the next BusinessCloud magazine. Subscribe free here.