By THE JAPAN NEWS
ASIA NEWS NETWORK
The 3-D maps will be sold to automobile manufacturers and other entities. The completion of the 3-D maps will become an important base for the practical use of self-driving cars by 2020, a goal the government has set.
Self-driving technology requires three main functions:
lA “cognitive function” to understand the locations of automobiles and their surrounding situations with cameras and sensors;
lA “judgement function” to choose the appropriate response, depending on the situation, using artificial intelligence or other devices;
lAn “operational function” to control the driving operation based on the judgement function.
The 3-D maps are intended to support the cognitive function, as well as concretely express information to both understand areas around a vehicle – including lane lines and centre lines – and information on driving restrictions such as speed limits.
By combining information from 3-D maps with data based on the global positioning system, self-driving cars would be able to avoid crashing into the side of the road and could run at a safe speed. In that sense, 3-D maps are different from car navigation systems, which have the main aim of giving information on driving directions.
Promoting the 3-D map development are the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, a public-private fund in which the government has a more than 90 per cent investment; main map publisher Zenrin Co; and Dynamic Map Platform Co, a Tokyo-based development company in which automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co have invested.
Since summer last year, they have accumulated data through self-driving cars that have been equipped with cameras and other devices and that have run on roads.
Dynamic Map Platform is seeking high-precision maps to lead them to enhanced self-driving technology and a safe driving support system, setting the goal of limiting errors of automobiles’ locations on 3-D maps to within 25 centimetres. In the future, the company also plans to create 3-D maps for self-driving cars on ordinary roads.
The government announced 3-D maps for self-driving cars as an important item in the Comprehensive Strategy on Science, Technology and Innovation 2016, which was decided at a Cabinet meeting in May 2016. A development company was established for that purpose in June 2016.
The government is promoting the public-private project to avoid a situation in which each company collects the same information on roads and to standardise 3-D maps.
The government positions the practical use of self-driving cars as a pillar of its growth strategy, It hopes it would help with the smooth transport of elderly people and in solving a labour shortage in the logistics field.