“The Silicon Valley race to build a self-driving car may revolve around one simple question: to map or not to map,” Alexei Oreskovic reports for Reuters.
“Google Inc, is creating intricate maps that detail every tree and curb along the road – an expensive endeavor that other companies could find difficult to match,” Oreskovic reports. “Newer entrants such as ride-share service Uber and Apple Inc could take a shortcut and develop a car capable of piloting itself without such elaborate and expensive blueprints, industry experts say.”
“Raj Rajkumar, one of the leading experts on self-driving cars at Carnegie Mellon University, said the map-based approach makes sense for a company with Google’s resources but is not required,” Oreskovic reports. “All autonomous cars rely on basic electronic maps for navigation and lane centering. But Google’s cars use far more detailed 3D maps, which the company creates by using laser scanners. Google analyzes the data, determining where traffic lights and stop signs are, for instance, so that the vehicle ‘knows’ exactly where it is. But the maps can quickly become stale, he said. Fresh snow could change the landscape.”
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MacDailyNews Take: Google’s method would be fine in a warehouse for forklifts or something where changes to the landscape can be anticipated. The real world, not so much. Google’s mapping efforts seem like overkill. The focus, for real world autonomous driving, should be vehicles that can pilot themselves without painstakingly-made maps that can and will change often in myriad ways.