Japan venture readying maps for driverless cars

A Japanese joint venture involving Mitsubishi Electric and mapmaker Zenrin will create sample digital highway maps as soon as this year for use by domestic automakers in developing autonomous-driving technology.

Tokyo-based Dynamic Map Planning aims to digitally chart 20,000km of Japan’s highways and other roads in fiscal 2017, incorporating requests and improvements suggested by the automakers.

The high-resolution sample map is to cover the 300km of expressways. Vehicles with GPS antennas and laser scanners will collect the map data, which will be combined with road sign information and other data.

Dynamic Map Planning is considering a partnership with Here, a German company that offers cloud-based management of map data. German car companies BMW, Audi and Daimler bought Here in December. Standardizing the basic specifications of digital map data could help Japanese and European automakers do business in each other’s regions.

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