TomTom partners with Cisco for real-time vehicle lane mapping for autonomous driving

18 July 2017

18 July 2017

Dutch mapping company TomTom is working with networking giant Cisco to develop ultra-fast per-lane mapping of traffic levels in order to support applications in autonomous vehicle driving and mobility management, helping to improve efficiency and safety. Meanwhile, TomTom Telematics warns that more than a fifth of UK companies do not have a road safety policy in place for their work driving duties, risking their safety and legal action.

This new development will allow for a highly fine level of detail in systems knowing where vehicles are in each lane of a motorway – useful both for autonomous vehicles to know exactly where other cars are and also for traffic management centres to ensure roads are used as efficiently as possible.

Data captured from Cisco’s network of roadside sensors, routers and controllers will be used by TomTom to create highly powerful next-generation traffic technology. Their research involves combining Cisco’s data with TomTom’s traffic fusion technology, with the solution being powered by Cisco’s Internet of Things (IoT) network platform.

Cisco’s EMEAR president Edwin Paalvast said: ′With this project, we are connecting road infrastructure, vehicles, drivers and road authorities, enabling them to exchange information in near real time. That is what the Internet of Things is about. With TomTom’s expertise, its gigantic pool of traffic data and innovative traffic technology, TomTom is a strong company to work with in this field.’

One eye-catching innovation TomTom and Cisco are deploying is the use of DAS (Distributed Acoustic Sensing) technology. This converts each fibre optic cable into a virtual microphone array, which can detect and measure each vehicle’s movements.

This data is then merged with TomTom’s cloud car data, pooled from more than 500 million in-car devices, to be displayed on a TomTom interface that can be used by Traffic Management Centres to measure traffic flow to pin-point detail.

This DAS technology also has the huge added benefit of being much cheaper to set up and maintain than traditional inductive loop sensors, encouraging increased adoption. The products of their research are also expected to reduce latency (critical for high data loads in autonomous driving) and increase accuracy of real time traffic monitoring applications, as well as reducing their operating costs. It is a win-win for all involved.

TomTom’s autonomous driving maps now cover the whole of Western Europe, and it is working with tech giant Baidu to bring these maps to Baidu’s ′Android for cars’ open-source autonomous vehicle programme.

The TomTom-Cisco technology also helps to develop better autonomous driving systems, by enabling cars to gather data beyond the range of their on-board sensors, in real time and on a fine-detail per-lane basis. This maximises the safe driving potential of autonomous vehicles – which offer great promise to solve high levels of road accidents worldwide – and will ultimately save lives.

However, much can also be done in the present, according to TomTom Telematics, which warns that a fifth (21%) of UK companies whose employees drive for work purposes still do not have a road safety policy in place – despite 60% of respondents saying staff members were involved in traffic accidents while on business duty. Furthermore, 78% said this led to lost productivity due to injury or time off work. In addition, 36% of organisations also did not have in place risk-profiling processes for individual drivers, including factors such as driving behaviour and previous convictions.

TomTom Telematics UK & Ireland director Beverley Wise said: ′Driving is one of the most high-risk activities the majority of workers will conduct as part of their job, but is too often seen as a poor relation when it comes to workplace health and safety″¦

′If the appropriate action is not taken, they could even leave themselves open to prosecution under the Health and Safety at Work Act or Corporate Manslaughter legislation should employees be killed or seriously injured.’

It seems much can still be done by fleet managers to improve safety, even before autonomous vehicles help to remove driving’s ties to the risks of human error – and they can reduce their exposure to the risks of legal action in the process.