'Autonomous driving' is the hottest phrase in the automotive industry right now, and never has a topic been more hotly debated with recent industry discussions surrounding the role of the insurance industry. 

But, as is often the case, the technology for autonomous cars is way ahead of the policy-refining and infrastructure, and these photos show us one area where vehicles are more than capable – accurately mapping what’s around them.

Audi, BMW and Daimler bought mapping company HERE from Nokia last year, demonstrating how important this tech is for future vehicles. Now HERE has mapped London, creating a range of 3D images showing the level of detail which autonomous vehicles have at their disposal. 

Most closely akin to Google Streetview cars, HERE’s ‘True’ vehicles use LiDAR (light detection and ranging) tech to pinpoint kerbs, trees and road furniture to a 10cm accuracy. All of this information is then transposed to a dynamic representation of the road, called HERE HD Live Map, which updates in near real-time, according to HERE.

These cool-looking photos combine three layers of maps:

HD Map layer contains details of precise lane geometry and boundaries, informs the vehicle of the roads around it and knows which lane it is allowed in. This layer provides traversal information including lane type, markings and speed limit information.

Live Roads layer tells the vehicle about upcoming congestion, temporary road layouts and adverse weather. It does this by processing real time sensor data from vehicles already on the road and integrating real-time traffic information, weather and even road conditions.

Humanised Driving layer analyses existing driver data so that the vehicle knows the appropriate speed to travel in certain driving conditions, based on personal preferences. Just because the speed limit is 60mph, it doesn’t mean the car should take a corner on a country road at this speed.

All of this sounds like some pretty intelligent tech, but there’s no doubt that public perception is still lagging - a recent WhatCar? survey showed that 69% of drivers found the idea of autonomous driving “unappealing”.