Industry-wide consensus needed to put autonomous vehicles on the map

Shareable geospatial mapping data will be key to the predicted roll-out of self-driving vehicles in 2030, and the UK is in the fast lane to lead development of these regulations

Getting self-driving vehicles on UK roads by 2030 will require industry-wide consensus to create large-scale platforms for collecting, processing and sharing connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) specific mapping data, says a report from Zenzic, the organisation dedicated to accelerating self-driving in the UK.

Its Geodata report – analysis and recommendations for self-driving vehicle testing is designed to help the self-driving vehicle industry agree on defining how mapping data can be shared between companies and authorities, to speed up the development of safe self-driving vehicles without hindering competition.

As it was assessing how the CAV industry should evolve, Zenzic suggested in the report that the connected and self-driving technology industries should follow the gaming, weather and building information modelling sectors when it comes to finding common terminology, as well as working closely with BSI and the Open Geospatial Consortium.

It also showed the importance of streamlining when merging mapping data from regional sources – there are more than 200 local highway authorities in the UK – to avoid multiple different ways of processing and handling data.

The study said solving the current fragmentation of geospatial mapping data was vital to enable self-driving vehicles to be safely on the road, both in the UK and globally. It said the initial steps the industry needed to take towards creating a consensus on mapping requirements covered six main areas: data formats, data quality and resolution, terminology, minimum safe requirements and standards, government data and traffic regulation orders, and data hosting.

Zenzic noted that mapping data quality, specifically accuracy and precision of such data, was more important than resolution. With that in mind, 10cm – with 5cm for lane boundary information – was posited as suitable resolution for AV systems that use HD maps and 2cm for those that do not.

It also said that both the TN-ITS and ISO 20542 standards are widely used by equipment and vehicle manufacturers and harmonisation between the two standards will take some time, so testing facilities must initially be able to accommodate both.

Zenzic CEO Daniel Ruiz said: “This report shows that the global self-driving vehicle development industry agrees that mapping data needs to be easily shareable for us to achieve the goal of having self-driving vehicles on our streets by 2030. When it comes to the maps which will form the basis of how self-driving vehicles see the world, the details matter, from how this data is shared, to what resolution of mapping data is deemed safe.

“The UK is well placed to lead the development of standards and regulation, as organisations like OS and BSI have done for decades.”

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