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Connected vehicles ‘need better location data’

Autonomous vehicles on road
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There is a need to fill gaps in location data, define standards for its accuracy and incentivise its sharing between local authorities and industry to support the future use of connected vehicles, according to the Geospatial Commission.

It has highlighted the issue in a new report, Finding the Way Forward, that highlights the role of location data and technologies in the enabling the safe deployment of connected and self-driving vehicles.

The report says that by 2035, 40% of cars in the UK could have self-driving capabilities and the market could be worth up to £42 billion and create 38,000 new jobs.

Vehicles will rely on location data to know where they are in relation to their surroundings, including the kerbside, other vehicles and pedestrians, but there are challenges around its discoverability, accessibility and quality.

Not all of the existing data is precise and there a need to improve its quality and granularity, digitise it where it is not currently accessible, and close gaps such as on lane markings, speed limits and street furniture, the report says.

Need for accuracy

Part of this will involve establishing data standards to ensure it is accurate and that it can be used effectively by the technology. In particular, there should be a minimum standard for high definition maps.

In addition, the efficient sharing of location data will be fundamental to the safe operation of automated vehicles. This should involve incentivising local authorities and vehicle manufacturers to make their relevant data available to each other.

“Location data and technologies are and will be increasingly critical for the continued development and safe deployment of CAM (connected and automated mobility) at scale,” the report says. Connected vehicles themselves will collect significant amounts of location data that could inform wider decisions about urban planning, traffic management and the rollout of electric vehicle chargepoints.”

It adds that a robust regulatory framework will be required to support the development of the sector.

Revolutionise travel

Steve Unger, independent commissioner at the Geospatial Commission, commented: “Connected and self-driving vehicles will revolutionise how we travel. They will make our roads safer, by eliminating avoidable accidents, and they will improve both efficiency and quality of life, through more effective management of congestion.

“They are made possible by technological advances in various areas, such as sensor technology and artificial intelligence, but the practical application of these new technologies depends critically on access to location data. Detailed mapping of the street environment, in a form that is readily discoverable, easily accessible, and of high quality, will be key to realising the potential benefits.”

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