Autonomous Driving

The Mobility Revolution: Maps and Self-Driving Cars

June 20, 2017

With today’s interest in moving toward fully autonomous vehicles, mapping technology has become more important than ever. “Maps can already do amazing things and will continually do so in a greater capacity in the future,” according to Alex Hilliger von Thile, Senior Manager of the Advanced Graphics and Rendering team at MBRDNA.

Maps Join Self-driving Cars in Sensor Fusion Capabilities

People have their senses to help them navigate in the world – sight, touch, and hearing. Today’s most advanced cars have similar capabilities including, utilizing cameras, radars, and LIDARs to “sense” the environment around the car and operate accordingly. They combine all of this data in a phenomenon called sensor fusion.

Maps are doing this too. Once used as a basic navigation tool, maps can now gather information about hazards and alternate routes, construction and inclement weather, and independently guide a car or driver.

“Maps are becoming like sensors themselves and may well become one of the most powerful sensors. After all, they are the only sensors that can reliably look around corners,” says Alex.

A map with powerful real-time data knows about icy roads and accidents around the next curve, prevents you from getting stuck in the traffic jam ahead and finds you that last free parking spot downtown. Maps as an additional sensor in the mobility ecosystem have huge potential to enhance safety and convenience on the road today. Mercedes-Benz understands the critical role mapping technology plays in the self-driving vehicles of tomorrow.

A Partnership with HERE

Daimler is collaborating with high-definition maps-provider HERE. HERE’s goal is to remap the world in 3D. It is currently measuring 50,000 street kilometers each week, in 200 countries around the world, and up to a height of 30 meters.

With this breadth of data gathered and analyzed in mobility ecosystem solutions, even the tallest of Daimler buses will know whether or not they can fit into a tunnel ahead.

Sharing, plus gaining, information from the onboard sensors is where maps in the car can add major benefits, as compared to smartphone-based maps. If we want fully self-driving (and most of all safe) cars, we will also need highly-accurate, reliable, and continuously updating high-definition maps.

Sensors can only do so much. To enable level 4 and 5 self-driving autonomy, we need ultra-precise and continually updated maps.

The Marriage of Mapping and Self-Driving

Self-driving cars and mapping technology together, not only provide safety, but will also enrich the journey – it’s no longer about getting from point A to point B. Some of the benefits include:

  • Finding the fastest route to your office when rain has congested traffic
  • Getting a new scenic route on a relaxed weekend drive
  • Arriving in a new city and receiving a tailored route of hotspots
  • Pre-booking a parking spot for the end of your route

“Mapping and self-driving cars are bringing various benefits to society,” says Alex. “From saving space and energy with self-parking in urban areas, to self-driving trucks and vans enhancing the safety of the shipping industry – these benefits not only aid the environment and cut costs, but they save the personal time, energy, and other costs of these formerly human tasks.”

This is the promise of the future mobility ecosystem.

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