TRI-AD, Maxar Technologies and NTT DATA collaborate to build high-definition maps for autonomous vehicles from space

Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development, Inc. ("TRI-AD"), Toyota's automated driving software development company, Maxar Technologies Inc. ("Maxar"), a global technology innovator powering the new space economy, and NTT DATA Corporation ("NTT DATA"), a leading IT services provider, today announced they will collaborate on a proof of concept building automated high-definition ("HD") maps for autonomous vehicles using high-resolution satellite imagery. This is an important move toward advancing TRI-AD's open software platform concept known as Automated Mapping Platform ("AMP") and help realize the scalability of autonomous driving.

Autonomous vehicles use several real-time sensors to ensure safe driving and these sensors need to be cross-referenced with an HD map for safe operation. According to TRI-AD analysis, currently HD maps cover less than 1% of the global road network*, and there is a need to broaden the coverage of urban areas and local roads before autonomous vehicles can become a mainstream mobility technology. An HD map created from the accurate satellite imagery allows the driving software to compare multiple data sources and signal the car to take action to stay safe.

In this proof of concept, the three companies will work together to process satellite imagery into vehicle-friendly HD maps. Leveraging Maxar’s cloud-based Geospatial Big Data platform (GBDX), imagery from Maxar’s optical satellite imagery library will be fed into NTT DATA’s specialized algorithms using Artificial Intelligence to extract information that is necessary to generate the detailed road network. Based on the above information, TRI-AD will make HD maps available for delivery from TRI-AD’s cloud into Toyota test vehicles. The group is focusing first on creating an automated HD map for a predefined area of the Tokyo metropolitan region, opening up the future possibility of supporting automated mobility on all roads.

Mandali Khalesi, Vice President Automated Driving at TRI-AD said: “Recent advances in electronics and aerospace engineering are leading to higher resolutions and more frequent updates of global imagery from space-based assets. Additionally, machine learning is helping automate the discovery and integration of semantic relationships between road elements within image data. We’re excited to collaborate with Maxar and NTT DATA to revolutionize automated driving mobility for all.

High-definition maps are an essential element for the navigation and safety of autonomous vehicles, and Maxar is proud to provide the data and analytics platform that make HD maps possible,” said Paul Granito, Maxar’s Vice President of Global Sales. “This new, innovative project points to the growing demand of our exclusive high-resolution imagery and advanced geospatial analytics.

Katsuichi Sonoda, Vice President and Head of NTT DATA’s Social Infrastructure Solution Sector at NTT DATA, said: “We have been fully engaged in the satellite-imaging business for 20 years, providing our AW3D-branded 3D maps on a global short-delivery basis. In this new project, we will use NTT DATA’s AI and enhanced image-processing expertise to expand the coverage of high-definition maps on a fast, scalable and cost-effective basis. In the future, we hope to map worldwide road networks from space using our enhanced image-processing expertise.

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