When using car navigation systems and smartphones, people increasingly rely on 3D maps to get to their destination. As interest in smart mobility and autonomous driving grows, the demand for high-definition 3D map data will only continue to increase. But how can important map data be acquired efficiently and accurately? Our Mobile Mapping System holds the answer.
A Solution to Address the Growing Need for Accurate 3D Maps
While overhead 2D maps on car navigation systems and smartphones were the initial standard, 3D maps are increasingly becoming the norm. And with the advent of devices like wearable displays that are making Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) applications a practical reality, and the rollout of autonomous vehicles in the not-too-distant future, the need for technologies that survey landscapes in 3D will only increase.
To create reliable maps, many challenges must be met. 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 that lie ahead to make correct judgements. Another mapping challenge is keeping data current in light of the rapid change cities undergo. Surveying in the dark or in out-of-range areas like underground tunnels is not easy, either. Our Mobile Mapping System (MMS), however, can respond to all of these challenges to create accurate 3D maps for practical use.
Satellite Antennas, Laser Scanners and Cameras Work in Concert to Capture Map Data
How does our MMS work? First, customers mount the system on the rooftop of a vehicle. The system is made up of cameras, laser scanners, a main control unit, a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) antenna, and an inertial measurement unit (IMU), which is a type of gyroscope.
When the vehicle is driven at regular speeds, the system captures data on a road’s form, surface and surrounding objects, like lane markers and guard rails, within 10cm of absolute accuracy. While the system uses the GNSS antenna and the IMU to establish the mapping vehicle’s position, laser scanners capture the vehicle’s distance between objects based on the time it takes for light beams to bounce back to the system. In practice, the system captures approximately 50 thousand to 1 million coordinates per second to generate highly accurate 3D maps. Thanks to the IMU, vehicle speed sensor and highly sensitive cameras, map survey work can be done even at night or where satellite signals cannot be received, like in tunnels, for example.
Enriching People's Lives with Improved 3D Maps
To ensure that our MMS can meet the mapping demands of the future, we are constantly working to improve it. For instance, we are making the system more compact so it can be used with greater practicality, upgrading post-processing software so it is easier to run after data has been collected, and using our technologies to automate tedious parts of the mapping process that were done by hand previously. We are also developing technologies that can differentiate between previously surveyed data and the latest data so maps can be kept up to date with ease.
By creating high-definition 3D maps that are even richer and more detailed than before, we will strive to enrich people’s lives with safe autonomous driving, smart mobility and other technologies of the future.