A deeper look into new HERE services for autonomous cars

Jamie Stevenson
London 51° 30' 23.112" N, -0° 7' 37.956" E" E

Following the announcement that HERE has become the first in the industry to pull sensor data from multiple OEMs, we take a closer look at the services, what they mean, and the promise they hold for autonomous vehicles.

We spoke with Matthias Mohlig, who is heading product management for automotive services at HERE, to find out more about the services.

He says, “Thanks to the data we can now pull from the different car brands, we are able to improve our traffic offering, while also launching three brand new services - HERE Hazard Warnings, HERE Road Signs and HERE On-Street Parking.”

“I believe that with this data, we’ll not only be able to improve our services, but also address broader issues in society and the development of the autonomous vehicle.”

HERE Real-Time Traffic

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HERE Real-Time Traffic, the next generation of the current traffic service, will offer improvements across the board – with increased vehicle probes and hard braking sensor events empowering a greater level of insight into traffic flow and disruptions, delivered faster and with better coverage and accuracy.

HERE Hazard Warnings

Hazard Warnings is a new service which provides – you guessed it – up-to-date, relevant information on potential hazards and accidents. Matthias tells us more about the service, and how using the sensor data pooled from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz will make a difference.

“A key update is that, traditionally, you’d receive this information through a traffic incident service, which is editorialised. This means that the confidence in this data is pretty low. Now, however, these incidents can come directly from the cars, which use rich vehicle sensors to observe reality and offer it at a higher accuracy and lower latency. “

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This results in near real-time updates on everything from slippery roads to extreme weather, not only improving the safety of the driver, but also enhancing Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Matthias adds:

“We will be able to broadcast a reported incident to the fleet in very little time – this means that it can help both drivers and autonomous cars make smarter decisions, based on the up-to-date information provided.”

HERE Road Signs

HERE Road Signs, meanwhile, offers an enhancement to the speed limit information which usually comes with HERE navigation. Matthias tells us more:

“In the past, it was difficult for us to get map updates on road signs as their data footprints were rather large. So, what we are building with the new service is a thin layer on top of our maps, which allows us to update speed limits in less than 24 hours on a global scale.”

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Matthias also stresses how the service is useful for both human drivers and autonomous services, in-particular adaptive cruise control. After all, you want to trust that your autonomous vehicle won’t get you a ticket.

HERE On-Street Parking

Last but not least, HERE will launch its On-Street Parking service. Matthias tells us more:

“The problem with traditional on-street parking services is that you can only answer questions like, ‘how likely is it that I will find a parking space?’ The answer would also have to be focused on a very particular location, due to the sheer amount of data required to address any more demanding questions, like ‘how long will it take me to find parking?’ or even ‘where is the next free parking space?’”

“Now, thanks to the new agreement, we have access to this amount of data. By using the data, and hopefully reaching agreements with more OEMs, we should be able to provide this information to a higher level of accuracy than ever before. By pooling this data, anyone should be able to find an answer to their parking problem.”

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While that may sound like pure convenience for the driver, such services will also impact pedestrians and areas on a wider scale – with limited parking causing more than 30 per-cent of overall inner-city traffic.

Getting the green light

While Matthias stresses that the creation of these services has been relatively smooth with the use of the newly accessible data, a number of factors have to be taken into consideration during development. He explains:

“First, we have to be extremely diligent over privacy, making sure we are completely compliant with privacy laws. The rest of the process was smooth, and despite some initial trepidation, these car brands are the first to recognise the opportunity of sharing data, while HERE has already been working on data standardisation.”

Matthias speaks of the opportunities these services represent:

“Car safety is crucial. Millions of people are injured or die every year from traffic accidents, but with faster, more reliable safety-related information we can help to move these numbers down. “

“Reliable information on hazards, road signs and traffic can also help create a better driving experience, and aid in the development of the autonomous car.”

Matthias argues that for autonomous vehicles to work, both passengers and pedestrians have to trust in the vehicles and what they are capable of. Improving the level of information available, and the speed in which it’s made available, should do just this. He adds, “We have trustworthy data, and huge amounts of it.”

Data deluge

When asked about what comes next after the agreement and the launch of the services themselves, Matthias explains, “We want to invite more auto makers to share their data and intensify data contribution. We want to continue to reduce latency to further improve safety, while extending the reach of these services all over the world.”

Matthias also explains ideas for new features, including notifications for lane closures, and including payment options for parking within the services. With a look to the future, he adds:

“We want to put more validation into place, so that self-driving cars can make decisions based on what we are reporting to them. That’s the future.”

The services will be available in 2017. Let us know what you think of the announcement in the comments below.

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Topics: Automotive, Autonomous cars, Connected cars, Features, HERE at Mondial, Open Location Platform, Editor's picks

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