Driverless cars need to be able to see where they are going, and they need to know where they are going. Maps and navigation systems help the car find its way to the destination, and laser radar systems help the car see through dangerous weather conditions and road traffic.
Zenrin Co. is a Japanese mapmaker focused on improving their maps of Japan for driverless cars. They use vehicle mounted cameras and other equipment to map the roads in real-time. Several car manufacturers utilize Zenrin’s maps to program the driverless cars they are producing. Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp are developing driverless cars that will depend on these maps. These car manufacturers plan to sell driveless cars by 2020. An estimated 12 million autonomous cars will be on the road by 2035.
The goal of companies like Zenrin Co. is to provide accurate, contextual awareness for autonomous cars. Some of the factors that need to be incorporated include traffic conditions, road closures, and new signs. To account for day to day changes, Zenrin has 1,000 field surveyors that walk through the streets of Tokyo taking notes.
Mobileye is taking another approach to ensure accurate maps. They gather real-time data from cars produced by automakers as they drive. This crowdsourcing method earned this Israeli-based software company $1 billion dollars in the stock market.
The digital mapping unit Here, which was recently purchased by AUDI AG, BMW Group, and Daimler AG, creates maps that are accurate to within 10 centimeters.
Source: IT Business Net
Accounting for weather conditions is another goal of car manufacturers. Snow and rain can be misinterpreted by sensors as road obstructions. Ford recently announced that it has overcome this problem with the help of the University of Michigan. Together, they created a new algorithm that accurately recognizes snow flakes and rain drops. Ford’s autonomous cars use LiDAR, which stands for LIght Detection and Ranging. It originally stood for ‘light and radar’. LiDAR emits short bursts of light as the car drives and a mapping program uses data reflected back to the car to create a 3D map of the environment. The new algorithm is able to distinguish snow flakes and rain drops. The driveless car will be able to traverse these types of weather conditions much more safely.