Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development (TRI-AD), space economy technology provider Maxar Technologies and IT company NTT DATA are to use high-resolution (HD) satellite imagery to develop automated HD maps for self-driving vehicles.

The companies will collaborate on a proof of concept. The collaboration is intended to advance TRI-AD’s open software platform concept, Automated Mapping Platform (AMP), and help realise the scalability of autonomous driving.

Several real-time sensors used in autonomous vehicles to ensure safe driving should be cross-referenced with a HD map to aid safe operation.

According to TRI-AD, HD maps currently cover less than 1% of the global road network. A HD map created from satellite imagery facilitates the driving software to compare multiple data sources and send a signal to the car to take action, if needed, to stay safe.

TRI-AD vice-president of automated driving Mandali Khalesi 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 revolutionise automated driving mobility for all.”

“Recent advances in electronics and aerospace engineering are leading to higher resolutions and more frequent updates of global imagery from space-based assets.”

The three companies will together process satellite imagery into vehicle-friendly HD maps. Maxar’s Geospatial Big Data platform (GBDX) will be used to feed imagery from Maxar’s optical satellite image library into NTT DATA’s algorithms using artificial intelligence (AI) to extract information to create a detailed road network. Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Based on this information, TRI-AD will build HD maps for delivery from TRI-AD’s Cloud into Toyota test vehicles. Initially, the group will focus on creating an automated HD map for a predefined area of the Tokyo metropolitan region.

Maxar vice-president of global sales Paul Granito said: “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.

“This new, innovative project points to the growing demand of our accurate, high-resolution imagery and advanced geospatial analytics.”

TRI-AD is Toyota’s automated driving software development company.

NTT DATA vice-president and head of social infrastructure solution sector Katsuichi Sonoda said: “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.”