The autonomous vehicles of the future and the assisted-driving vehicles of today both rely on a host of sensors and cameras to figure out where they are in the world – and where everybody else is. But while adaptive headlights can move to provide better visibility and sensors can detect objects in all directions, they can’t see what’s around the next corner.
That’s the problem HERE Live HD maps is aiming to solve by making this mapping technology available to auto manufacturers. The system, which was introduced at CES 2016 in Las Vegas, works with on-board sensors to create a better, more accurate picture of the car’s surroundings. A live map updated in real time can work with adaptive cruise control and headlights to “see” farther ahead and around the bend.
But HERE Live HD isn’t selfish. If it picks up on new information – say, several cars' sensors detect a speed limit sign that’s different from HERE’s data – it will update the map for those cars and for every other car that has HERE Live HD technology with the correct posted speed limit. This real-time remapping could signal you to switch lanes to get around a stall on the highway, or even reroute traffic to ease congestion until the stall is cleared.
While Live HD maps are new, the technology is already being used in millions of cars, thanks to HERE’s recent acquisition by BMW, Audi, and Daimler. The connected cars from those companies that are on the road are already uploading what’s called “simple probe data” – basically the stuff you get from GPS, like the car’s speed, location, and heading. As technology and bandwidth improve, more complex data will be uploaded, like road surface type and conditions. This is the information that will lead to fully autonomous vehicles in the future, but even today it works with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) like lane departure warnings.
HERE is currently processing 2 billion points of data per day, mostly from phones running apps using HERE’s technology (it’s not always branded as HERE, by the way; the company works with a lot of partners, including Kindle and Yahoo). But there’s never enough data when the goal is to create the freshest, most accurate map possible in real time.