HD Maps: Updated in Real-Time

HD Maps: Updated in Real-Time

Can we update HD maps in real-time? Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are growing in popularity and practicality, and innovative creators are seeking to find digital solutions to analog problems. Lane lines, signs, and traffic lights were made for human drivers. These markers need to be optimized for AV use, which is often accomplished with cameras and sensors. In the layman’s mind, this is analogous to sight. Some companies have begun to produce high-definition digital maps of the real world by recording lane lines, road signs, and other important navigational aids to create digital hd maps.

This monumental undertaking creates a dazzling map of the real world, as it was the moment the data was recorded. However, that map can depreciate in less than a day as road crews come in to upgrade the road’s infrastructure. Once that begins, what does that mean for the high-definition map that was painstakingly created? 

It becomes outdated.

The HD map becomes much less useful when the data doesn’t match what the car is ‘seeing’. Out-of-date maps make traversing challenging environments like work zones even more difficult for AVs. Once digital maps and physical sensors become out of sync with each other, it can create a safety hazard for AVs driving through work zones.

The outdated map remains outdated until new data is available for what has changed in the area, often requiring re-recording the road. When and how frequently this happens are major factors in the usefulness of the map. Change happens every day. No matter how hard a company works at keeping its maps up-to-date, there will always be sections that are out of sync with the real world. 

What if there was a system that recorded the changes, as they happened?

What if you could update your hd maps in real-time? Not by surveying the road, but by recording the act of change? With such a system, data can be made available to mapping systems over the air in real-time. Once a road’s lane lines are changed, the maps could be updated, and those updates pushed out to the end-users who depend on those maps. Creating a seamless experience for the end-user, these updates would increase the safety of AVs that depend on digital maps of the road to guide them as they navigate. 

Over time, the precision of that system will increase and offer a wealth of information usable for more than just autonomous travel. New applications will be born as autonomous vehicles and smart cities spread. 

Such a system is closer than one might think.

Already, the data is being collected and made available. V-Markings is working hard to bring the world the most up-to-date, accurate, and useful data on lane lines, with a plan for the future encompassing five levels of information.

The ability to update HD maps the moment the world changes will become the cornerstone of road mapping. Those HD maps will be reliable and accurate and enable AVs to navigate through areas of temporary change, such as work zones, freely and safely. Safer navigation would be enabled in a host of situations, including adverse weather conditions. In clear, ideal conditions, the HD map can also serve as a redundant system for safety and accuracy checks, where the AV can more accurately pinpoint its location based on GPS information, its sensor input, and the HD map onboard. 

In the future of road navigation, HD maps play a key role. That’s why it’s important to create systems where those maps are never out-of-date. 

Managing changes is a challenge faced by every digital mapping company. How do you keep your product up-to-date when road work happens every day, changing the landscape of the roads? When maps are out-of-date almost as soon as they are created, how can that be overcome? By recording those changes the moment they take place. It sounds audacious, but it’s possible. We’ve done it.

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