A race is on among automakers to develop advanced systems that can map and constantly update a vehicle's precise location, a basic capability that self-driving vehicles require to orient themselves on roads.
The "crowdsourced" data, after being gathered by the vehicle and processed, can be shared with other vehicles on the road to update their maps as well as information about traffic and changing road conditions.
Several corporate announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week come in the wake of agreements among automakers and suppliers during the past several months that hint at solutions researchers are pursuing to solve fundamental technical hurdles to driverless vehicles.
Toyota (TM) said it is developing a high-precision mapping system that will use production vehicles equipped with cameras and global positioning satellite devices to gather information, initially on expressways and eventually on side streets. Although Toyota will be creating its own maps, the automaker said it is open to cooperating with mapping companies.
General Motors (GM) said it will partner with the Israeli chip and software maker Mobileye (MBLY) to "use crowd-sourced real-time data collected by (GM) OnStar for precise localization and high-definition lane data that supports fully autonomous driving." Data first will be collected by Mobileye's system, which uses on-board cameras, GM said.
"Cameras are the most natural sensors for creating maps because they are already available in most new car models as part of the trend toward growing driver assistance deployment," Amnon Shashua, co-founder, chairman and chief technical officer of Mobileye, said in a GM press release. "Creating and updating maps using on-board camera technology supplies the missing link between on-board sensing and the requirement for full redundancy to enable safe autonomous driving."