OS Standards For Driverless Vehciles
Currently there is no single source of high definition mapping data. This image shows local authority-defined locations of lampposts compared to the real locations

Ordnance Survey sets mapping standards for driverless cars

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Nicola Byrne

The national mapping agency and the UK Government’s hub for self-driving vehicle development, Zenzic, have launched a report to set out the global standards for high-definition mapping, for the safe deployment of self-driving vehicles.

The ‘Geodata report – analysis and recommendations for self-driving vehicle testing’, calls for the creation of common data standards to promote collaboration and improve confidence in mapping data for self-driving vehicles.

The report also suggests:

  • The level of detail required for self-driving vehicle mapping. The two companies determined self-driving vehicles will require maps with resolution better than 5cm to ensure vehicles can operate in complex environments. Maps will also need to include information on curbs, street-level features like lampposts, pedestrian crossings and road markings. Real-time updates to maps will also be crucial to let self-driving cars ‘see’ around corners for temporary objects in the road like skips or roadworks
  • Why self-driving vehicles require a new generation of live maps. Self-driving cars use a range of sensors to ‘see’ the world around them and interpreting that information in real-time requires a lot of processing power. With high-definition maps which are updated in real-time, a self-driving vehicle 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 self-driving mapping to be available and useful. Currently there is no single source of high definition mapping data, each self-driving company is having to develop its own from the ground up. Ordnance Survey 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 self-driving vehicles 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.

Simon Navin, head of innovation programmes at Ordnance Survey, said the economic and societal benefits that can be achieved through the introduction of self-driving vehicles on UK roads “should be significant”,  and the mapping agency believes “consistent, authoritative and trusted data provides a framework for safe operation, interoperability and open standards development.”

He added: “It will also enable innovative solutions from a wide range of providers who will bring new and exciting solutions to the U.K. mobility sector.”

Daniel Ruiz, CEO of Zenzic highlighted the UK’s goal to be able to benefit from self-driving vehicles on roads at scale by 2030, he said it’s a target that “requires the development of technologies and tools which do not fully exist today.”

He said the report is “another stake in the ground for the UK as a leader in the self-driving revolution.”

Read the full report here

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