Leading automotive supplier The Bosch Group and Dutch mapping company TomTom have come together to develop the highly accurate maps needed for automated driving to become a reality. TomTom will of course supply the maps and Bosch will determine the necessary specifications the maps will need to meet in order to function as the guides for autonomous vehicles. They will continue a successful partnership — TomTom already provides maps to Bosch for its “connected horizon,” traveling into the future with this new venture.
Though, like their partnership, the venture isn’t completely new. TomTom’s maps are already being used in Bosch tests vehicles on public roads in parts of Germany and the United States. Additionally, Jan Maarten de Vries, Vice President Automotive at TomTom, says, “By the end of 2015, we want to have new high-precision maps for automated driving for all freeways and freeway-like roads in Germany.” I wonder, what is a freeway-like road?
Anyhow, the end of 2015 is like a half-year away and these maps need to be extremely specific. How specific, you ask? To the nearest decimeter, according to Bosch. Not only is accuracy significantly greater on maps for automated vehicles, but the maps must consist of many layers.
While a traditional navigation map is made up of just one layer, point A to point B, the maps being developed for this purpose must contain at least three: base navigation, localization, and planning. Base navigation is the aforementioned A to B; as in selection of route. Localization is a little trickier. It utilizes what Bosch calls “a novel positioning concept” to provide highly accurate map data for autonomous vehicles to determine their position within a lane. The vehicle’s computer senses its surroundings and compares them to the localization layer on the map, thus determining its position. The planning layer includes such relevant data as street signs, speed limits, lane dividers and also the slopes and curves of the road. The three-dimensional layer of the map is what the computer uses to determine lane changes and other similar driving factors.
Clearly, these maps will have to be constantly updated. Bosch and TomTom assure there will be a fleet of mappers regularly on the road collecting data. New roads and routes, speed limit changes, detours, new traffic signs, and construction will all be fed through, verified, and updated as to provide riders with a safe and comfortable experience. How many vehicles will this fleet consist of? That remains to be seen.
As the partnership continues, Bosch and TomTom aim for 2020 as the year of the fully functional autonomous vehicle. Which leaves one wondering only one question,”How young is too young to take dad’s autonomous Porsche out for a little spin; maybe show it off to a couple of friends?”
Yeah, I couldn’t help myself. But until then, kids will just have to settle for this.