TRI-AD, Maxar Technologies and NTT DATA collaborate to build high-definition maps for autonomous vehicles from space

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NTT DATA, in collaboration with Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development, Inc. (TRI-AD) and Maxar Technologies Inc (Maxar). has today announced they will produce a proof of concept to build automated high definition (HD) maps for autonomous vehicles using satellite imagery. This is an important move towards advancing TRI-AD’s open software platform concept known as Automated Mapping Platform (“AMP”) and to help realise the scalability of autonomous driving.

Autonomous vehicles use several real-time sensors to ensure safe driving and these sensors need to be cross-referenced with an HD map for safe operation. According to TRI-AD analysis, currently HD maps cover less than 1% of the global road network1. Coverage of urban areas and local roads needs to be increased before autonomous vehicles become part of mainstream mobility technology. An HD map created from the accurate satellite imagery allows the driving software to compare multiple data sources and signal the car to take action to stay safe.

TRI-AD is Toyota’s automated driving software development company, while Maxar is a global technology innovator powering the new space economy. NTT DATA is a leading IT services provider.

In this proof of concept, the three companies will work together to process satellite imagery into vehicle-friendly HD maps. Leveraging Maxar’s cloud-based Geospatial Big Data platform (GBDX), imagery from Maxar’s optical satellite imagery library will be fed into NTT DATA’s specialised algorithms which use Artificial Intelligence to extract necessary information to generate the detailed road network. TRI-AD will make HD maps available for delivery from its cloud into Toyota test vehicles. The three companies are initially focusing on creating an automated HD map for a predefined area of the Tokyo metropolitan region, which opens the future possibility of supporting automated mobility on all roads.

Mandali Khalesi, Vice President Automated Driving at TRI-AD said: “Recent advances in electronics and aerospace engineering are leading to higher resolutions and more frequent updates of global imagery from space-based assets. Additionally, machine learning is helping automate the discovery and integration of semantic relationships between road elements within image data. We’re excited to collaborate with Maxar and NTT DATA to revolutionise automated driving mobility for all.”

“High-definition maps are an essential element for the navigation and safety of autonomous vehicles, and Maxar is proud to provide the data and analytics platform that make HD maps possible,” said Paul Granito, Maxar’s Vice President of Global Sales. “This new, innovative project points to the growing demand of our exclusive high-resolution imagery and geospatial analytics.”

Katsuichi Sonoda, Vice President and Head of NTT DATA’s Social Infrastructure Solution Sector, said: “We have been fully engaged in the satellite-imaging business for 20 years, providing our AW3D-branded 3D maps on a global short-delivery basis. In this new project, we will use NTT DATA’s AI and enhanced image-processing expertise to expand the coverage of high-definition maps on a fast, scalable and cost-effective basis. In the future, we hope to map worldwide road networks from space using our enhanced image-processing expertise.”

Notes

1 Assuming that high definition maps were available for the entire highway road network for the US, China, Germany and Japan (0.23M km), this represents less than 1% of the global road network (39.5M km).