Self-driving cars have gone from the realms of science fiction to reality, with brands from Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and BMW to Apple, Uber and Addison Lee racing to develop the technology, but a lack of data standards is threatening to scupper the market.
That is according to national mapping agency Ordnance Survey, which along with industry specialist Zenzic, has published a new report calling for global standards to be drawn up ro aid high definition mapping.
OS insists these are needed to promote collaboration and improve confidence in mapping data for "connected autonomous vehicles" (CAVs).
The report points out that maps will need a resolution better than 5cm to ensure vehicles can operate in complex environments. They will also need to include information on curbs, street level features such as lampposts, pedestrian crossings and road markings.
In addition, real-time updates will be crucial to enable self-driving vehicles to navigate around corners, which may have temporary objects such as roadworks and skips in the way.
The updates would also enable a vehicle to reference the position of other road users against what it already knows to be there, and provide a back-up in a situation where a car’s sensors are less effectively, such as when there are adverse weather conditions.
The OS maintains there is currently no single source of high definition mapping data and suggests the need for a neutrally hosted platform. This would draw on data from multiple sources, which would increase confidence in its reliability and help different self-driving vehicles travel on the same stretch of road.
But this would need standards for how data is collected and shared and for them to be implemented globally.
OS head of innovation programmes Simon Navin said: “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 UK mobility sector.”