Next-Dimension Navigation: Mapping a Course for Smarter Mobility

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27th February, 2020

3D maps on navigation systems help people further understand their surroundings and get to their destination. And with the growth of smart mobility and autonomous driving on the horizon, 3D mapping’s time is just beginning. Here, the building block for 3D mapping is raw data for mapping, but the question is where to find it? Mitsubishi Electric’s Mobile Mapping System holds the answer.

New Maps for a New Era

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, it is essential for vehicles to have not only precise self-positioning data but also high-definition 3D digital maps that allow vehicles to recognize their own current positions accurately. Another mapping challenge is keeping data current in light of the rapid changes that cities undergo. Surveying at nighttime or in out-of-range areas like underground tunnels is not easy, either. Mitsubishi Electric’s Mobile Mapping System (MMS), however, can respond to all of these challenges to create accurate 3D maps for practical use.

Scanning and Searching

How does the 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 road signs, within 2 to 10 cm 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 1 million coordinates per second as raw data to create 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.

New Dimensions of Motion

To ensure that its MMS can meet the mapping demands of the future, Mitsubishi Electric is constantly working to improve it. For instance, the Japanese manufacturer is 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 its technologies to automate tedious parts of the mapping process that were done by hand previously.

By helping to create high-definition 3D maps that are even richer and more detailed than before, Mitsubishi Electric will strive to enrich people’s lives with safe autonomous driving, smart mobility and other technologies of the future.

The content is true and accurate as of the time of publication.Information related to products and services included in this article may differ by country or region.

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