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Toyota steps closer to autonomous driving with new HD map building ability

Toyota steps closer to autonomous driving with new HD map building ability

MANILA: Sitting in your self-driving car while having breakfast on the way to work may be a reality that’s decades away but companies like Toyota are making great strides toward the moment that bring us nearer to that scenario.

The Japanese automaker’s automated driving software development company TRI-AD (Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development) has announced that it has a "proof of concept" showing high-definition (HD) maps for surface roads with relative accuracy of less than 50 centimeters created without the use of survey vehicles.

Also demonstrated in the proof of concept is the capability of TRI-AD’s Automated Mapping Platform to apply vehicle data to other companies’ platforms by simply converting formats and applying correcting algorithms.

This is a very significant development as HD maps needed to make automated driving a reality is a slow process. This "proof" now shows that areas needing HD map coverage can be expanded quickly and costs to build and maintain the HD maps can be substantially reduced.

TRI-AD body photo 1

In partnership with Maxar Technologies and NTT DATA Corporation, TRI-AD has made it possible to automatically extract the required map information by analyzing and removing and correcting non-map image pixels such as automobiles, shadows, and occlusions due to the inclination of buildings in satellite imagery. Currently, maps with a relative accuracy of 25 centimeters were created within the 23 wards in Tokyo, as well as six cities globally, and were verified to be useful for automated driving purposes.

TRI-AD body photo 2

TRI-AD has also tapped leading road intelligence platform CARMERA, Inc. to successfully conduct a camera-based HD mapping initiative. The collaboration used dashcam drive recorders to detect and place key road features―such as lane markings, traffic signals and signs―within the 23 wards in Tokyo and two cities in the United States. The project achieved a relative accuracy of 40 centimeters for key navigation features―a major advance in camera-only detection. TRI-AD's work with CARMERA used the same hardware-agnostic computer vision and processing technology as CARMERA's Real-Time Events and Change Management engine, which detects, validates and delivers navigation-critical updates to CARMERA's regenerative HD mapping system in minutes rather than months. By using consumer-grade vehicle cameras that are common around the world, TRI-AD and CARMERA showcased a scalable approach to next-generation map making.

TRI-AD body photo 3

TRI-AD is also collaborating with TomTom International BV. on a process that can successfully create and update in near real-time lane markings on lower-class roads that are necessary for automated driving.

TRI-AD body photo 4

Another TRI-AD partner is HERE Technologies (HERE) which corrected the positional errors in the vehicle data collected by TRI-AD. HERE was able to automatically create surface road maps using their advanced ‘Self-Healing’ technology. By using only vehicle sensor data, HERE ingested the data into its platform and automatically generated HD maps including lane-level information required for automated driving. HERE's HD Live Map has already been selected to power some of the world's most prestigious OEM's Level 3 automated vehicle programs.

"I'm very pleased to announce the results of the PoCs with Maxar and NTT DATA, and CARMERA, and also the results of our new demonstration partners, TomTom and HERE. We got a step closer to a future where automated driving becomes a safer and more accessible technology for all. We will continue to cooperate with partners as we further refine our accuracy," said Mandali Khalesi, vice president of automated driving strategy and mapping at TRI-AD.

Also Read: Toyota earmarks US$1.5-M to develop next-gen traffic management system