Toyota Plans to Collect Road Data for Self-driving Cars

February 10th, 2016 by


Toyota has found a way to allow cars to send real-time information to data-processing centers that will use it to improve mapping for self-driving cars. Toyota promises the technology, which will debut in production cars by 2020, can send onboard camera and GPS information through the cloud to data centers that patch it together for better navigation data.

Today, map data for self-driving cars requires sending out vehicles outfitted with three-dimensional laser scanners to create environmental imaging that’s manually corrected on the back end. That’s as slow and complicated as it sounds, and as a result maps are rarely updated.

“An understanding of road layouts and traffic rules (including speed limits and various road signs) is essential for the successful implementation of automated driving technologies,” Toyota notes in its press release. “Additionally, high precision measurement of positional information requires the collection of information on dividing lines, curbs and other road characteristics.”

Outfitted with cameras and positioning systems, other cars on the road can provide such data en masse, but self-driving technology requires a better understanding of road signs, markings and layouts.

With “designated user vehicles,” Toyota aims to simplify the whole process. Cameras and GPS data aren’t as accurate as laser scanners, but there are a lot more of them — and with enough cars transmitting information, Toyota can match up enough images to triangulate what’s really out there. Toyota’s system will take the gathered intel and send it back to data centers where it is automatically patched together, tweaked for accuracy and updated, allowing for current, “high precision” maps of a large area. The automaker claims the technology will have real-time updates and a margin of error of just 2 inches.

The new tech won’t make it to Toyota’s autonomous cars until those production vehicles hit the road, and that won’t happen until around 2020. Mapping will likely be limited to freeways to start, though that should expand to ordinary roads along with the ability to track driving hazards. The company says it wants to work with mapmakers so that everyone is using “high precision map data,” not just Toyota.

Stay tuned for more information on Toyota’s innovations! In the meantime, head on over to Elmhurst Toyota and take any of our popular Toyota models for a test drive.

Posted in Technology, Toyota