Multi-Transport Options Vital for In-Vehicle Mapping

Despite the recent well-publicized stumbles in the development of autonomous driving, the industry is clearly not losing faith in the technology, which has become the main driver of future in-car mapping.

“The top use case for us is autonomous driving,” said Leen Balcaen, vice-president of product management at the location data and technology platform HERE Technologies. “Autonomous vehicles are software-based and, the more control the car has, the more accurate the information it receives needs to be.”

That said, according to Adam Kozłowski, head of automotive research and development at Grape Up, combining different transport options into a single system is an extremely important aspect of modern navigation systems. “It is not just easier to use but also makes the whole trip more environment- friendly, especially when combining bikes, public transport and micro-mobility,” he said. In addition, parts of the centers of European cities will be closed to traffic. “So, having a comprehensive system that will handle scenarios like parking the vehicle and switching to public transportation, bike or car sharing will be extremely important.”

Currently, the HD UniMap map is used by BMW in its new 7 Series vehicles with Level 2+, which is set to be launched in the US, and in Mercedes-Benz Level 3 cars currently on the roads of Germany. Balcaen said the system “will be fresher, that means more aligned with reality, so that if a change happens in reality, we will have it faster in the map.”

Reducing the time it takes to detect a real-world change and to add that change to the map is obviously essential to autonomous driving. She added: “We get a lot of information from connected cars. As soon as these sensors pick something up, we get a trigger in our environment saying something has changed there.”

Then the new data is analyzed and sent out as an update to the customers’ maps so that they are able to react to the change. This is especially important in case of roadworks or, especially, an accident. This turnaround time has usually been measured in weeks or months. Now that has been shrunk to hours, minutes or even seconds. “Right now we are working intensively on speed limits,” Balcaen said. “They are very complex. In many cases there is no speed limit sign in a city. All these things that you don’t see on the road are also part of our map. We look at all the information that is out there and it is found in all kinds of forms… data from sensors, pictures from cellphones, information from satellites.”

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