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Britain to lead global mapping standards

By [email protected] - 12th July 2019 - 11:59

Britain to lead global mapping standards to allow self-driving vehicles to ‘see’ around corners

A new report published today by Zenzic, the UK hub organisation for self-driving vehicle development, and Ordnance Survey (OS), Great Britain’s National Mapping agency sets out what the global standards should be for high-definition mapping; necessary for the safe deployment of self-driving vehicles.

The ‘Geodata report - analysis and recommendations for self-driving vehicle testing’ also calls for the creation of common data standards that promote collaboration and improve confidence in mapping data for self-driving vehicles.

The report goes into depth on a number of issues including:

  • The level of detail required for self-driving vehicle mapping - OS and Zenzic have determined that self-driving vehicles will require maps with resolution better than 5cm to ensure vehicles can operate in complex environments. Maps will also need to include information on curbs, street-level features like lamp-posts, pedestrian crossings and road markings. Real-time updates to maps will also be crucial to let self-driving cars ‘see’ around corners for temporary objects in the road like skips or roadworks.
  • Why self-driving vehicles require a new generation of live maps - Self-driving cars use a range of sensors to ‘see’ the world around them. However, interpreting that information in real-time requires a lot of processing power. With high-definition maps which are updated in real-time, a self-driving vehicle is able to reference the position of other road users against what it already knows to be there. It also provides a back-up in situations where its sensors are less effective. Adverse weather conditions like heavy-rain or sun reflecting off a wet-road can make relying on sensor data alone difficult.
  • What standards will be necessary globally for self-driving mapping to be available and useful - Currently there is no single source of high definition mapping data, each self-driving company is having to develop its own from the ground up. Ordnance Survey suggests a neutrally hosted platform for mapping data would increase the confidence in the data as it comes from multiple sources and would help different self-driving vehicles co-exist on the same piece of road. For this to work standards for how data is collected and shared will need to be implemented globally.

The research is being carried out in partnership with Zenzic, which was created by the UK Government and industry to coordinate a national platform for testing and developing connected and self-driving vehicles in the UK and is channelling £200 million in investment into the British self-driving industry.

Daniel Ruiz, Zenzic, CEO commented; “The UK’s goal is to be able to benefit from self-driving vehicles on our roads at scale by 2030, a target that requires the development of technologies and tools which do not fully exist today. Our report with Ordnance Survey is another stake in the ground for the UK as a leader in the self-driving revolution and shows how the UK is building on its expertise in areas like mapping to drive the world forward.”

Simon Navin, Ordnance Survey’s Head of Innovation Programmes, said: “The economic and societal benefits that can be achieved through the introduction of self-driving vehicles on U.K. roads should be significant. Through our work with Zenzic we are helping define the geospatial and mapping requirements that will accelerate the testing and adoption of self-driving technologies so that these benefits can be realised safely and efficiently. As Great Britain’s national mapping agency, we believe that consistent, authoritative and trusted data provides a framework for safe operation, interoperability and open standards development. It will also enable innovative solutions from a wide range of providers who will bring new and exciting solutions to the U.K. mobility sector”.

You can read the full report here at

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