Big data, little details: Ordnance Survey’s new HD mapping tech

Published: 23 September 2019

► New high-def mapping plan
► Mobileye and Ordnance Survey team up
► HD maps to drive autonomous projects 

Autonomous car tech specialists Mobileye and the Ordnance Survey – formed 1791 – have joined forces for an ambitious mapping project. The two plan to map the UK’s road network in much finer detail than ever, to support autonomous cars’ cameras and sensors. The data-collection scheme logs the exact location of manhole covers, cones, lampposts, network boxes, roadworks and – crucially – road markings. 

The tech will be hugely useful for autonomous-car development, providing more information and allowing the vehicles to respond more naturally to their surroundings.

Trials are being carried out through this summer in London, Manchester and the North East.

The terabytes of data collected are sent to OS, which then interlinks it with the mapping information in its vast data banks. Mobileye and OS intend to share the data with businesses, including those developing autonomous-car technology, so they can customise it to suit their needs. The tech is already set to work with 5G networks (currently being rolled out across the UK) for faster information transfers to and from the cloud.

Ordnance Survey (OS) and Mobileye are teaming up to deliver HD mapping of the UK road network

Mobileye’s owner Intel points out that utility companies can also use the data to better plan infrastructure changes. Northumbrian Water, responsible for water infrastructure in North East England, has elected to fit its fleet with cameras designed to capture the data, alongside Ordnance Survey vehicles.

Ordnance Survey chief executive Neil Ackroyd says: ‘The initial trials are already delivering a deeper, richer level of data capture. We envisage this new, rich data to be key to how vehicles, infrastructure, people and more will communicate in the digital age.’

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By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches