Hawke's Bay's status as a tourist destination is increasing the number of visits from Here mapping vehicles, which are also collecting data for driverless-car technology.

Here started as United States company Navteq and was the largest maker of automotive-grade map data for car navigation equipment when acquired by Nokia in 2007. In 2015 it was sold to a consortium of German car manufacturers - Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

Here's Oceania head of product management, strategy and operations, Sunny Wijewardana, said it was the world's leading location data company.

Clients included Oracle, Amazon and Facebook and it provided platform services for smartphones.

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He said eight out of 10 car navigation devices used Here information and "the exciting part of the company" was to enable "an autonomous future for everyone" through tools such as self-driving cars and drones.

"Part of the reason we were in Hawke's Bay recently was to do what we do today and a bit with what we want to do tomorrow. We want to be the solution that powers autonomous infrastructure."

The mapping vehicle seen in Hawke's Bay was one of five in New Zealand.

"We map the primary population centres - that is key - and expanding on that we map all the significant areas for tourism."

The vehicle carried highly-accurate GPS, motion-tracking technology and a 360-degree camera.

Signage is also recorded, with changes of company addresses recorded.

"One of the coolest bits of equipment in the car is called a LIDAR. It looks like a cylinder that spins around and it has a laser that spins around and maps everywhere in three dimensions.

"We actually don't use that data today - it is more for the future and self-driving cars."

He said while mapping-vehicle visits were the most accurate form of data collection, data was supplemented with government-supplied roading information.

Drivers of mapping vehicles did not collect information - they just drove - and covered all parts of New Zealand at least once every two years, he said.

The Here We Go app is available free on both Android and iOS and works from phones' GPS systems, so requires no phone company data.