The UK’s national mapping agency, Ordnance Survey (OS), and the government and industry-backed self-driving hub, Zenzic (formerly Meridian), have highlighted the importance of collaborative mapping in the development of self-driving vehicles.
A new report published by Zenzic, the UK’s hub organization for connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) development, and OS sets out what the global standards should be for high-definition (HD) mapping; necessary for the safe deployment of self-driving vehicles. The ‘Geodata report – analysis and recommendations for self-driving vehicle testing’ also calls for the creation of common data standards that promote collaboration and improve confidence in mapping data for automated-driving and autonomous vehicles (AVs).
The report studies a number of issues in depth, including:
- The level of detail required for AV mapping – OS and Zenzic have determined that self-driving vehicles will require maps with resolution better than 2 inches (5cm) to ensure they can operate in complex environments. Maps will also need to include information on curbs, street-level features like lamp-posts, pedestrian crossings and road markings. Real-time updates to maps will also be crucial to let CAVs ‘see’ around corners for temporary objects in the road like skips or roadworks;
- Why CAVs require a new generation of live maps – AVs use a range of sensors to ‘see’ the world around them. However, interpreting that information in real-time requires a lot of processing power. With HD maps that are updated in real-time, a CAV is able to reference the position of other road users against what it already knows to be there. It also provides a back-up in situations where its sensors are less effective. Adverse weather conditions like heavy-rain or sun reflecting off a wet-road can make relying on sensor data alone difficult;
- What standards will be necessary globally for CAV mapping to be available and useful – Currently there is no single source of HD mapping data, each self-driving company is having to develop its own from the ground up. OS suggests a neutrally-hosted platform for mapping data would increase the confidence in the data as it comes from multiple sources and would help different AVs co-exist on the same piece of road. For this to work, standards for how data is collected and shared will need to be implemented globally.
“The UK’s goal is to be able to benefit from self-driving vehicles on our roads at scale by 2030, a target that requires the development of technologies and tools which do not fully exist today,” commented Zenzic’s CEO, Daniel Ruiz. “Our report with Ordnance Survey is another stake in the ground for the UK as a leader in the self-driving revolution and shows how the UK is building on its expertise in areas like mapping to drive the world forward.”
Simon Navin, head of innovation programs at OS, said, “Through our work with Zenzic, we are helping define the geospatial and mapping requirements that will accelerate the testing and adoption of self-driving technologies so that the economic and societal benefits can be realized safely and efficiently. We believe that consistent, authoritative and trusted data provides a framework for safe operation, interoperability and open standards development.”