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Toyota to preview new mapping technology at CES

Toyota’s new high-precision map generation system to support the safe implementation of automated driving, is set to go on display at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in January.

The new system will use data from on-board cameras and GPS devices installed in production vehicles. Road images and vehicle positional information is sent to data centres, where it is automatically pieced together, corrected and updated to generate high precision road maps that cover a wide area.

An understanding of road layouts and traffic rules (including speed limits and various road signs) is essential for the successful implementation of automated driving technologies. Additionally, high precision measurement of positional information requires the collection of information on dividing lines, kerbs, and other road characteristics.

Until now, map data for automated driving purposes has been generated using specially-built vehicles equipped with three-dimensional laser scanners. These vehicles are driven through urban areas and on highways, and data is collected and manually edited to incorporate information such as dividing lines and road signs. Due to the infrequent nature of data collection, maps generated in this manner are seldom updated, limiting their usefulness and they are also relatively costly to maintain. 

Toyota's newly developed system uses automated cloud-based spatial information generation technology (developed by Toyota Central R&D Labs) to generate high precision road image data from the databanks and GPS devices of designated user vehicles. While such a system has a higher probability of error than one using three-dimensional laser scanners, positional errors can be mitigated using image matching technologies that integrate and correct road image data collected from multiple vehicles, as well as high precision trajectory estimation technologies. This restricts the system's margin of error to a maximum of 5 cm on straight roads. Utilising production vehicles and existing infrastructure to collect information, this data can be updated in real time. Furthermore, the system can be implemented and scaled up at a relatively low cost.

To support the spread of automated driving technologies, Toyota plans to include this system as a core element in automated driving vehicles that will be made available in production vehicles by around 2020. While initial use of the system is expected to be limited to expressways, future development goals include expanding functionality to cover ordinary roads and assist in hazard avoidance.

Toyota will also seek to collaborate with mapmakers to encourage the use of high precision map data in services offered by both the public and private sectors.

CES 2016 takes place in Las Vegas, from 6-9 January.