Bosch, TomTom develop digital maps for automated cars

July 21, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
While in industry rumours about an proposed acquisition of Nokia's mapping service HERE by a consortium of German automakers are circulating, Bosch creates facts: In a continuation of a proven collaboration, the automotive supplier will jointly develop the maps for automated vehicles with TomTom N.V.

The two companies have agreed to collaborate in the area of maps for highly automated driving. Under the agreement, the Dutch navigation system manufacturer and traffic data vendor is designing the highly exact digital maps, while Bosch, on the basis of its systems engineering work, is defining the specifications these maps have to meet. Bosch is already using TomTom maps in the automated vehicles the company is testing on German Autobahn A81 and on the Interstate 280 in California. With a resolution in some cases of a few centimetres, these maps offer a higher exactness than usual satellite navigation. “By the end of 2015, we want to have new high-precision maps for automated driving for all freeways and freeway-like roads in Germany, said Jan Maarten de Vries, TomTom Vice President Automotive. The coverage will subsequently be extended to the rest of Europe and North America.

Maps for highly automated driving and the maps used in current navigation systems differ primarily in two respects. First, accuracy is significantly higher – down to decimeter precision. Second, the map material for highly automated driving consists of multiple layers. The traditional base navigation layer is used to calculate routes from A to B, including the sequence of roads to be driven. The localization layer uses a novel positioning concept providing highly accurate map data, which the automated vehicle uses to accurately calculate its position within a lane. To do this, the vehicle compares its sensed environment with the corresponding information in the localization layer. In this way, the vehicle can accurately define its position relative to the road and its surroundings. On top of the localization layer, the planning layer contains not only attributes such as lane divider types, traffic signs, speed limits, etc., but also 3D information about road geometry, including curves and slopes. With the help of this detailed lane information, automated vehicles can decide things such as when and how to