Just over a year ago, TomTom and partner company Robert Bosch GmbH (Bosch), a leading global supplier of technology and services, began collaborative work on HD maps. The entire goal behind this partnership was to create highly automated, or self driving, cars. TomTom was in charge of designing the maps, while Bosch would decide the specifications the maps needed to meet.
The main difference behind these “high precision” maps is an entirely new level of accuracy—to measure down to the decimeter. Both companies have stated that maps that assist with automated driving are going to have to be a little different than the maps for regular navigation devices.
“Only with high precision maps will automated driving on freeways be possible from 2020,” said Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, a member of the Bosch board of management.
These HD maps consist of multiple layers. There is the base navigation layer, which is basic point A to point B routes. There is a localization layer, which links up the map’s data and the vehicle sensor data to calculate the vehicles exact position within a lane, and relative to its surroundings. Then, there is a planning layer, which has all the serious details like traffic signs, speed limits, when lanes end, and even curves and hills on the roads. The technology behind these maps, especially the planning layer, is now referred to as RoadDNA.
“We know that the future of automated driving hinges on the ability of a vehicle to continuously know exactly where it is located on the road… RoadDNA is the only technology of its kind,” said Harold Goddijn, CEO of TomTom.
Now that TomTom is on track with its technology, it is working on expanding HD maps so that they can be available throughout the entire United States.
The areas covered by RoadDNA have already been expanding tremendously since it was first developed in 2015. In the summer of 2016, TomTom announced that its HD maps and RoadDNA products will now be offered in 20 states throughout the United States. This technology is actually enabling the testing of self driving cars in nearly half of the U.S.—that’s over 75,000 miles.
Here is the breakdown of where it’s available in the U.S. so far:
- Interstates in Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont.
- Interstates and highways in California, Michigan, and Nevada
TomTom’s HD Maps and RoadDNA are considered revolutionary. These highly accurate versions of digital maps help automated vehicles predict the route ahead and change their driving patterns accordingly—even with changing conditions, or when traveling at high speeds.