By 2027, more than 47 million vehicles will rely on increasingly detailed and accurate digital maps to underpin Advanced Driver Assistance Systems or autonomous driving applications.
According to projections by ABI Research, technologies including automatic speed limit adherence and real-time localization services will require these enhanced and highly accurate digital maps to expand beyond simple route guidance and location assistance. This expansion will create a new long-term market opportunity for digital map suppliers to the automotive industry.
Intelligent Speed Assistance
One factor driving the growth in this industry is coming from Europe. The European Commission approved a rule earlier this year to make Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) mandatory for all new passenger vehicles, starting this year.
For several years, ISA has been implemented as an available option by some European automakers such as Mercedes-Benz. ISA allows the vehicle to note the posted speed limit and cruise at the posted speed. However, ISA is not a hard limit; the driver can override the speed control with the accelerator pedal.
“The uptake of digital maps outside of navigation and route guidance has been limited to date, so the European ISA mandate is an important catalyst for the location intelligence industry,” said James Hodgson, Smart Mobility & Automotive Principal Analyst at ABI Research.
“Future maps for autonomous vehicles will be quite different from legacy maps, in terms of their attribution, accuracy, and time to reflect reality requirements. Building and maintaining these maps will require a radically different curation approach, defined by crowdsourcing and automation of the pipeline.”
Road Sign Recognition is not enough
Road sign recognition is a common feature in many new vehicles, but systems that rely on a camera to “read” the speed limit have limited abilities because signs may be obscured or affected by weather.
Additionally, many unmarked rural roads are governed by a default speed limit that varies by state. In Europe, about 60% of speed limits are implied by the nature of the road, with no signage for a camera to identify.
According to Hodgson, “The need for maps in a resilient Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) system has blindsided some OEMs, particularly the requirement to maintain the maps that underpin the system to ensure accurate identification of the local speed restriction throughout the long lifetime of the vehicle.”
Digital mapping is a baseline
The key role of digital maps across the full spectrum of autonomous vehicle applications has become clear. General Motors and Ford have both invested heavily in detailed maps to support their hands-free driving systems. GM recently announced the doubling of the number of road miles supported by Super Cruise, and Ford devoted more than 500,000 miles of development driving, and then sent 10 vehicles on a 110,000-mile “Mother of All Road Trips” to test its BlueCruise system under a variety of real-world conditions.
In early 2022, both Ford and Volkswagen announced that they would leverage Mobileye’s Roadbook map product to augment SAE “Level 2+” lane centering applications, while Mercedes-Benz has selected HERE’s HD Live Map to underpin their pioneering SAE L3 Drive Pilot. Waymo builds its own HD digital maps of a Zone before deploying their L4 Robotaxi Waymo Driver platform in the area.
Crowdsourcing reality in real-time
According to ABI Research, meeting the “time to reflect reality” requirements of autonomous vehicle maps will mandate the use of crowdsourcing, leveraging the experience of sensor-equipped vehicles in the field to build and maintain the map.
Some ADAS and autonomous vehicle developers are creating the ability for any vehicle to report road conditions back to the developer. The idea is to keep maps up-to-date by crowdsourcing information.
For example, the Mobileye REM platform is capable of retrieving sensor data from models equipped with certain EyeQ ADAS chipsets, while NVIDIA’s MapStream allows for vehicles carrying their autonomous vehicle platform to update their map.
ABI Research estimates that the total global market for ISA and autonomous driving maps will reach $500 million by 2027, and that maintenance will be ongoing.
“ISA maps will give automakers and map suppliers their first taste of building and maintaining this new breed of automotive maps,” ABI’s Hodgson concludes. “It is key that OEMs do not regard ISA maps as a one-off nuisance, but as the beginning of a new era of location-enriched mobility.”