Adaptive cruise control and other semi-autonomous driving assistance functions will soon benefit from new mapping technology that enables them to ‘see’ further down the road than on-vehicle cameras and sensors would otherwise allow.
At the CES show in Las Vegas, digital mapping company Here has announced that its Electronic Horizon product will come to market in early 2017. The vehicle model concerned hasn’t been revealed, but given that 15% of Here is owned by Daimler, Audi and BMW – a shareholding that’s soon to be sold to Intel – we can expect the car to come from one of Germany’s big three premium brands.
At the heart of Electronic Horizon is accurate mapping and traffic information, updated constantly by cars equipped with the system sending data back to the Cloud. The information is processed and new versions of the map are returned to the vehicles, where it is used by the various driver assistance systems (classed as Level 2 on the automation scale) to make the drive smoother and safer, and save fuel. This could entail braking gently, well ahead of a speed limit reduction, for example, instead of waiting till the camera sees the change of limit sign before slamming on the anchors.
Speaking to Autocar at CES, Ralf Herrtwich, a former Daimler vehicle automation specialist who is now VP of automotive at Here, described Electronic Horizon as the “last step before going to the full, high-definition map for automated driving” – the maps that will be updated in seconds rather than minutes, and which will likely be crucial for fully autonomous (Level 5) cars to operate safely.