Connected car HERE now, autonomous driving coming later

Digital mapmaker HERE is building another bridge between the technology and automotive worlds, this time by creating a sensor data-driven platform for connected cars at the intersection of advanced driver assistance systems (), smart city, and autonomous vehicle initiatives.

The supplier of ultra-precise maps claims it’s the first service that will crowd-source rich sensor data from connected vehicles and will generate real-time traffic information for drivers. That, once more, underscores the critical role of sensor fusion hardware in processing data from cameras, radars, and ultrasonic sensors in connected vehicles.

[Sensor fusion is central in harnessing vehicle data for real-time traffic analysis.]

HERE — a pure play automotive electronics outfit jointly owned by German luxury car brands Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz — has announced that it will help vehicles move beyond GPS location data by launching the following four ADAS services in the first half of 2017:

  1. HERE Real-Time Traffic: A greater insight into traffic flow and disruptions via vehicle probes and hard braking sensor events.
  2. HERE Hazard Warnings: Vehicle sensors producing real-time updates on accidents, slippery roads, extreme weather, etc. with higher accuracy and lower latency.
  3. HERE Road Signs: A more up-to-date and animated information on roadside conditions like speed limits and road signs.
  4. HERE On-Street Parking: The rich sensor data pooling will enable drivers to find a parking space quickly with a higher level of accuracy.

It’s a highly collaborative effort in which HERE will provide APIs to automakers, road authorities, local municipalities, app developers, and smartphone makers. On the other hand, carmakers will provide libraries of sensor data to HERE for creating the real-time traffic analytics.

Inevitably, the sensor fusion is going to start with HERE owners —Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz — but other carmakers are welcome to contribute the vehicle data and join this live traffic service. Moreover, at the Paris Motor Show, HERE has provided more details about its automotive cloud service that will harness sensor data for connected cars.

From connected cars to

In many ways, this initiative is a prelude to autonomous cars while the ADAS industry is positioned somewhere in the middle of these two gigantic undertakings. And HERE has a stake in both ADAS and autonomous driving worlds via its high-definition (HD) maps that offer location details down to 20 centimeters.

For instance, HERE is an ADAS partner of automotive chipmaker Nvidia, which calls its DRIVE PX 2 processors the “automotive supercomputing platform.” It’s a GPU-centric computing system that merges rich data from cameras and other vehicle sensors.

[HERE maps meet vehicle sensors to create a real-time depiction of the road environments.]

The HD maps from HERE offer the context for the roadside information built around the data gathered from cameras, Lidars, and ultrasonic sensors, and thus can help cars in safe maneuvers and path planning. In fact, HD maps from HERE have been added to the PX 2 automotive platform as another sensor.

Apparently HERE is trying to create an open location platform that is going to serve ADAS and connected car initiatives for now. However, the sensor fusion data harnessed for connected cars can eventually help build the nerve center for autonomous vehicles.

In other words, it’s a tangible effort for serving the Internet of cars for now, while HERE and the rest of the industry is thinking big about the autonomous vehicles. One step at a time.

Majeed Ahmad is the former Editor-in-Chief of EE Times Asia. He is a journalist with an engineering background and two decades of experience in writing and editing technical content. He is also the author of six books on electronics: Smartphone, Nokia’s Smartphone Problem, The Next Web of 50 Billion Devices, Mobile Commerce 2.0, Age of Mobile Data, and Essential 4G Guide.

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