By on September 15, 2014

Lexus Autonomous Car

Like famed explorers Lewis & Clark, Amerigo Vespucci and Dora, autonomous vehicles will be at the mercy of whatever maps are available as they navigate the uncharted technological waters of the United States and beyond.

Automobile News reports mapping technology will become important in an autonomous vehicle’s V2I and V2V systems, with input coming from a collaborative effort between official sources and crowdsourcing.

In particular, mapping could be accomplished between vehicles via data collection and distribution on a real-time basis, such as the case now through smartphone apps that allow drivers to pass such data along to each other.

When the road runs out or hasn’t been mapped, however, it may end up in the hands of the driver passenger to take up where the vehicle left off. In turn, the data would be passed along as normal to others making a similar trek, improving upon what was discovered before so long as the road continues to see traffic on a frequent basis to ensure accuracy.

Meanwhile, government agencies and map makers could be called upon to create a digital infrastructure framework that would allow for “a static and dynamic representation of the physical world that would determine how autonomous vehicles get around,” according to Maxime Flament of ERTICO-ITS Europe. The standardized framework would further ensure accuracy and reliability in the maps for tomorrow’s autonomous vehicles.

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16 Comments on “Real-Time Mapping Key To Autonomous Travel...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    So the current state of autonomous driving is that these cars are just following a digital map in their brains based on their GPS location, and not actually viewing the road/signs/cars/people around them, then reacting to surroundings based on proximity sensors? There isn’t actually any thinking machinery in the car that knows what it’s doing?

    This makes me even less likely to want an autonomous car.

    • 0 avatar
      Tomifobia

      The high incidence of inaccuracies in Google Maps is reason enough for me to not want an autonomous car. I wouldn’t want to input an address, only to have the vehicle deliver me to the wrong house or, worse yet, the wrong town.

      • 0 avatar
        Brian P

        … or send me down a narrow paved road, which became a dirt road, which became two tracks going over a hill, at which point I turned around.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          Lol, I did that in Italy myself. The path once again became a road, and little Panda didn’t seem to mind at all.

          I really just want what they are calling super cruise now. The rest will get solved in time, no hurry.

          In the meantime, my car already reads speed limit signs and senses collisions. It’s just not 100% yet.

          • 0 avatar
            Roader

            I did that myself in Nicaragua just outside of Granada, getting stuck on a sand dune in the middle of a sugarcane field less than a kilometer from Lago de Nicaragua. But helpful locals picked up my Fiat Punta or whatever the heck I rented and got me turned around and on my way.

            I’m guessing that in ten years autonomous vehicles will just refuse to go some places I wish to go. That’s OK…I’ll just override the computer (電 腦) and take control.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @Brian P – this could be fun, I spend a day in the backcountry and my exploits get sent to Google and then some doofus gets inextricably lost following my data.

          I can see a new career as a “Search Savant” selling my skills to Search and Rescue. LOL

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Or you go under some tree, have a sun flare, etc and lose your signal and the car screeches to a halt.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      There is no such thing as thinking machinery. These vehicles do have camera/vision systems and are capable of recognizing other vehicles and pedestrians and even traffic-control signs/signals. They cannot reliably differentiate between various road surfaces, various lane marking (or erasing and remarking) methods, and sidewalks or other surfaces. The map is key to knowing where there is a vehicle-approved surface and where there is not. I am curious to see how this will affect parking as alleys, driveways, and parking lots are seldom mapped.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @cdotson There is no such thing as thinking machinery.

        That depends on how you define thinking. My son is using a technique called optogenetics to map the reaction of a particular model organism to different stimuli. Using that technology, we’ll get a good idea of how information is processed. Combine that knowledge with IBM’s cognitive SyNAPSE chip to process the data and we can get there eventually. That little hardware breakthrough this summer was what we really needed to move this technology forward.

        Currently, we can take multiple data sources like GPS, optical observation, municipal GIS data, weather, dead reckoning, etc. and figure out what’s really going on even if some of the sources are intermittently bad. V2v is just one more data source, but I won’t absolutely trust it.

      • 0 avatar
        jdash1972

        You’re assuming that machines can’t think and people can…, careful there. I’m not convinced people can think, at least not very often. More like a built in look-up table with standardized responses.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Truly autonomous cars are solidly in the manned-mission-to-mars category of liklihood. But everyone feels compelled to report on the fledgling efforts. Light entertainment.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @petezeiss +1 and they still somehow miss the really big steps forward:

      http://www.research.ibm.com/cognitive-computing/neurosynaptic-chips.shtml#fbid=pWgdwIapVGi

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        Thanks for the link. Very impressive and would seem to make autonomy car-centric rather than cobbled-Rube-Goldberg-system centric.

        But it also seems that the inevitable lawsuits could more easily target one or two monolithic entities rather than a smorgasbord of companies and municipalities.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I think it will take what – probably 50 more years before they have this worked out, since a fully autonomous system only works (legally and otherwise) if you prevent manual vehicles from being on the roads in large quantities.

    I don’t want this to happen though, at all. Just drive yourselves, ugh.

    *Cut to me 50 years from now, having some old car with a big red M (manual) plate on the back of it.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Only this is not the case at all. We could have autonomous cars in ten years if we were willing to make a draconian decision to deter the use of manually driven cars.

      Almost all the technical challenges remaining are how to do it without changing the infrastructure to favor the bots.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Landcrusher – valid point. Easy to implement if no one is allowed to drive.
        All you need is one red neck in an armoured 1979 F350 and the whole system goes down in flames.

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