A few new roads here, new EV chargers there, and a lot of technical innovation in between: map data must be constantly kept up to date. Otherwise they miss their purpose, mislead the driver, or have even worse effects.
At the 4th NDS Public Conference, Andrew Calkins, Senior Engineer Automated Mapping at Woven Planet, gave a practice-oriented keynote on this important topic. In focus: A tile-based approach to map updates.
As a software engineer in the mapping business, Calkins’ passion is to find the minimum map attributes needed so that maps can be easily updated and deployed throughout the ecosystem. Woven Planet, a subsidiary of Toyota, innovates and invests in new technologies, software, and business models. Woven Planet’s vision is to use AI integrated with advanced engineering to enable a mobility of people, goods and information that everyone can enjoy and trust. Woven focusses on three areas: Automated Mapping, their Automotive OS “Arene”, and Automated Driving.
Three pillars of development work
One of the focus areas for the development team at Woven Planet is mapping and delivering maps in a scalable, modular way, e.g. developing automotive-grade base maps using scalable modalities like satellite / aerial imagery and aggregated probe data. Another aspect is change management and map regeneration, e.g. detecting lane-level changes in features and furniture and making corresponding updates, all by using commodity, consumer-grade sensors. An important part of the development work deals with geospatial indexing, i.e. the use of lower fidelity maps as a baseline index for developing more powerful training models based on road data.
Key to Woven’s approach to mapping is tile-based map sourcing: being able to update and ultimately source a map at a tile-by-tile level. Working at the tile-level allows discrete updates to the map where only the high confident, validated changes are sent to the vehicle. Right now the developers only update the tiles with high confident changes. Working at the tile level, they can detect if there are aspects in that tile that need to be updated. Moving forward, when map vendors can be changed in real time, different updates are possible and developers increase the innovation cycle. New data layer features can be tried and previous implementations used if not perfectly right.
Test validations accelerate development process
A lot more innovations can be pushed forward allowing for more agility in the development cycle. Canary deployment allows safe, real-time deployment of innovations at the tile level. Ultimately the developers want to get to better data procurement models: They want to be able to constantly evaluate maps in real time with vehicle probe feedback and test validations. “At a transaction level we will decide which vendor’s map is the best to use at an individual tile location. Rather than a long procurement cycle we can use test validations to see if this map is good enough right now and we can integrate it into our system. NDS.Live offers us an ideal framework“, says Andrew Calkins. He pointed out the flexible and cooperative benefits of NDS collaboration: “NDS.Live gives us the option for adopting interoperability.”
Woven Planet benefits from the standard data layers and the independent tiling concept to exchange map vendors. Furthermore, the high degree of cooperation in adjusting and accommodating for ADAS and AD scenarios. “Thirdly, for ADAS and AD applications we believe that the latest [NDS.Live] specification is basically ready for production – a good start to move forward”, Calkins adds.
But he also addressed challenges in the development process. It can happen, for example, that when updating individual tiles, the connector points do not match. Here NDS.Live provides valuable support: When the connector points are misaligned, this will trigger an initial vehicle map matching so that the vehicle re-orientates to the new tile map. So even if there should be minimal disparities, the ADAS and AD applications can adjust to that. Or if connector points are close enough, the previous history of lane connectivity can be retained and used, without having to trigger a full vehicle rematching of the vehicle.
NDS pushes innovation
Another option for innovation: When sourcing different maps from different vendors, changing the source of the tiles at every boundary should be avoided because it Increases the risk of incorrect map matching, and it hinders the localization part of the application. That’s why it’s advisable to distribute the tiles more closely, applying a cost equation that takes into account multiple variables for the quality and business requirements but also including a geographical distribution element that prefers similar map vendors across the boundaries.
Calkins sums up: “In summary, it’s about better sourcing, better reliability and better innovation.”
Andrew Calkins’ presentation at the 4th NDS Public Conference can be watched in full length below.Back to news →