With the expected rollout of autonomous driving vehicles in the not-too-distant future, the need for technologies that survey landscapes in 3D will increases. Only highly precise mapping data will make the centimeter-level accuracy possible needed for the safe and efficient application of autonomous driving technology.
To make autonomous driving safe, not only is it essential to have 3D data for a particular vehicle’s current location, the system must have accurate map data on turns, terrain and other road features to make correct judgements. Another mapping challenge is keeping data current considering the rapid change cities undergo. Surveying in the dark or in out-of-range areas like underground tunnels, is not easy, either.
To support the development of this technology, Mitsubishi Electric Europe has established the High Precision Positioning Systems Division at its German branch headquarters. This division offers relevant technological products including a Mobile Mapping System (MMS) and the high-precision AQLOC positioning receiver. These solutions are designed to enable autonomous driving with centimeter-level accuracy and safe driving assistance for applications in road and utility vehicles, harbors, and drones as well as the agricultural sector.
The AQLOC receiver will be compatible with GNSS (global navigation satellite system) services and positioning data augmentation services by SAPCORDA, a joint-venture by Mitsubishi Electric, Bosch, Geo++ and u-blox. MMS uses car-mounted GNSS antennas, laser scanners, and cameras to gather accurate 3D positioning data, creating the comprehensive, high-definition 3D maps needed to support autonomous driving.
The company uses its experience gained during development of the Japanese Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) and the Centimeter-Level Augmentation Service (CLAS), which already offer accurate positioning data for Japan. In addition, Mitsubishi Electric invested in Dynamic Map Platform, a 3D mapping project in Japan that has acquired the US company Ushr in February 2019.
In my view, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has good opportunities to capture this growing accurate positioning systems market in the Europe, especially with the technological know-how and experience they already gained on the Japanese market.