Complex Made Simple

Google Maps out! HD Maps will bring you home

You may one day own an autonomous car.

They may still run on fuel, or be charged at electric “pumps”, and they may be designed to fly.

But you still won’t be going anywhere!

One of the basic requirements for an autonomous car to work properly is the High- Definition Map (HD map).

AutoWeek, a platform for cars news, recently revealed that Intel plans to create HD maps of streets and driving environments to be used by autonomous cars by sourcing video data from 2 million cars already equipped with front-facing cameras.

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“Specifically, 2 million BMW, Volkswagen and Nissan cars will gather road imagery and upload it to the cloud in “low-bandwidth data packets” to create a constantly updating 3-D map of road environments,” it said.

So what is exactly an HD map?

HD Maps

According to Geospacial World, a platform for geospacial industry news, explains that HD Maps are the new generation maps that are powering machines and self-driving cars.

TomTom Automotive, a company for innovative technology solutions, reveals that autonomous vehicles require maps that are significantly different from the maps that are used in today’s navigation systems.

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“In order to operate safely, efficiently and in a comfortable way for passengers, autonomous vehicles need high-definition maps that allow for centimeter-level accuracy,” it said.

Do we need to ditch Google Maps?

Advanced technology, a website for cars news, says that GPS isn’t accurate enough for autonomous vehicles while HD mapping are a must for AVs.

“HD maps would render every last strand of the entire lawn—and locate that hard, black surface where those giant wheeled death machines prey on tiny insects,” it said. “Whereas a regular map can position a car’s location to within a meter, HD maps can do it to within as few as 10 centimeters.”

Automotive world, a website for auto updates, ruled away the possibility of using sensors to correct GPS measurements as this approach was tested and it’s expensive and not scalable.

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“These technologies are difficult to scale for global implementation in vehicles on the road. We strongly believe that providing an HD map and localisation layers represents a much more scalable approach,” it said.

According to Automotive World, path planning is a main role for maps of the future.

“This is not just navigation as in, ‘take a right at the next exit’, explains Tomaso Grossi, Senior Product Marketer at TomTom Automotive.

“It is also recognising that the vehicle needs to turn into the right lane now if it wants to be able to turn right off the highway, for example,” he said.

“This is the difference between the use of maps for navigation and the use of HD maps for autonomous or automated driving.”

Recognizing the fact that autonomous cars will come into use few years from now, many companies have raced to develop HD maps.

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HD Maps providers

AutoWeek revealed that Mobileye, a pioneer in driver-assistance systems that was recently purchased by Intel, plans to create high-definition maps of streets and driving environments.

According to Technology Review, Baidu, China’s largest search company, is making the detailed high-definition maps needed for autonomous cars to get around safely.

It said that Baidu will sell HD maps as a service to customers like car makers who will either opt to charge service fees or bake the cost into the overall cost of the vehicles.

The company also recently announced that it is partnering with mapping company TomTom to integrate its HD maps into its Apollo autonomous-vehicle software.

According to Apollo’s website, Apollo provides an open, reliable and secure software platform for its partners to develop their own autonomous driving systems through on-vehicle and hardware platforms.

Moreover, NVIDIA offers an end-to-end mapping system for self-driving cars, designed to help automakers, map companies and startups rapidly create HD maps and keep them updated.