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April 8, 2016
Vehicle Sensor Crowdsourcing to Transform the Digital Map Ecosystem in Preparation for the Driverless Era

ABI Research, the leader in transformative technology innovation market intelligence, finds that highly accurate, real-time maps are an essential next step as the automotive industry steers toward the future of fully driverless cars. All autonomous and driverless vehicle maps will need to combine accuracy, environmental models, and real-time attributes allowing positional and temporal awareness.

“Crowdsourcing is crucial,” says Dominique Bonte, Managing Director and Vice President at ABI Research. “As connected vehicles include more low-cost, high-resolution sensors, cars will capture and upload this data to a central, cloud-based repository so that automotive companies, such as HERE, can crowdsource the information to build highly accurate, real-time precision maps. This is fueled by the rapid adoption of a wide range of active safety systems with more than 94 million longitudinal assistance ADAS systems expected to ship in 2026.”

The new 3D, dynamic maps will provide a complementary data set to ADAS sensors for an overall smoother driving experience. Whereas sensors provide real-time visibility on a vehicle’s immediate vicinity for last-minute obstacle detection and collision avoidance, maps extend this visibility to allow vehicles to anticipate those situations long before the sensors would even have to detect them.

“Humans managed to learn how to drive without maps, which leaves many wondering why driverless vehicles can’t do the same,” continues Bonte. “The short answer is: they can. But there is still an inherent need for reliability and robustness, which can only be achieved by building redundancy into autonomous vehicle technology. Maps will work in harmony with ADAS sensors to dramatically improve overall accuracy and predictability.”

The battle for controlling crowdsourced driverless HD map technology is heating up. Daimler, jointly owning HERE with BMW and Audi, confirmed talks with Amazon and Microsoft to join the consortium. Mobileye signed agreements with GM, VW, and Nissan to use its Road Experience Management (REM) mapping platform. And at the GPU Technology Conference (GTC), NVIDIA announced its new HD mapping approach based on its DRIVE™ PX machine vision hardware platform. Car OEM Toyota also announced its own mapping platform, working with mapping supplier Zenrin in Japan.

ABI Research argues that the biggest challenge for the new mapping paradigm is the lack of standards coupled with high levels of fragmentation in the automotive industry. Despite HERE’s efforts to assemble the industry around its Sensor Integration Standard for real-time map attributes, many players, like ADAS vendor Mobileye, are vying to play a role in map data crowdsourcing and proposing and/or imposing their own proprietary approaches.

“The industry needs to set standards, if only for the fact that standards readily allow vehicles to exchange real-time map attributes between each other,” concludes Bonte. “In the early stages, new players introducing their own solutions might actually fuel innovation and accelerate adoption of crowdsourced map technology. But in the long term, economies of scale and a maturing market environment will require the adoption of standards and open platform approaches.”

These findings are part of ABI Research’s Automotive Safety and Autonomous Driving Service, which includes research reports, market data, insights, and competitive assessments.

About ABI Research

For more than 25 years, ABI Research has stood at the forefront of technology market intelligence, partnering with innovative business leaders to implement informed, transformative technology decisions. The company employs a global team of senior analysts to provide comprehensive research and consulting services through deep quantitative forecasts, qualitative analyses and teardown services. An industry pioneer, ABI Research is proactive in its approach, frequently uncovering ground-breaking business cycles ahead of the curve and publishing research 18 to 36 months in advance of other organizations. In all, the company covers more than 60 services, spanning 11 technology sectors. For more information, visit www.abiresearch.com.

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