HERE Technologies is a location platform company that is working on various innovations around the areas of navigation and location-based services. Auto Tech Review caught up with Abhijit Sengupta, Sub Regional Director – South East Asia and India, HERE Technologies, to find out about the role of location-based technologies for the autonomous future of transportation as well as the journey towards that end.
Globally, map and live traffic information have served as powerful tools for the automotive industry, and even more now with the requirement for vehicle connectivity. The increased number of sensors in modern vehicles due to the introduction of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) has prompted a map and content provider like HERE to include more information into maps than ever before. Sengupta said the maps themselves are evolving and includes as much detailed information as possible concerning lanes, traffic rules and signs, environment, etc.
The exponential growth in the requirement of automotive navigation services to provide detailed road, traffic and safety information has paved the path towards Autonomous Cars, with the transitional phases being connected cars and ADAS. The role of the maps and navigation system is to reflect the real world in a digital format for the vehicle to understand and carry out driving tasks. The decision on the adoption of the level of autonomy from 1 to 5 will be with manufacturers in various markets, noted Sengupta.
He also said various industries such as telecommunications, internet, blockchain and location platform providers are evolving towards developing new mobility technologies. There is a convergence of these industries for the purpose of bringing in relevant consumer-focussed automotive solutions, added Sengupta.
In terms of the Indian market, there will be a combination of low and high power capacity vehicles. Sengupta said the basic needs will remain uniform across various vehicle segments. These include mainly efficiency of turn-by-turn navigation as well as mobile phones becoming a way of connecting the navigation system. With regards to Autonomous Vehicles, Sengupta noted that vehicles will definitely be connected in the next few years, but they will not feature conventional solutions of automated driving. Other segments that may potentially use such location-based information could be in the areas of shared mobility, supply chain, logistics, e-commerce and distribution.
A very unique requirement from the Indian market with regards to location services is in accessing information for the last mile, since addressing is not very structured, Sengupta noted. There is a high level of landmark-based addressing in the country and it is very diverse, in terms of languages as well. In order to solve this, HERE has developed landmark-based referencing, called ‘Natural Guidance,’ in addition to connecting addresses with points of interest. Sengupta also said road intersections are used as reference points, and all these addressing solutions become important for industries like e-commerce, transport, logistics and supply chain.
India is a huge two-wheeler market, which caters to a wide demographic that includes urban, semi-urban and rural. Sengupta said discussions with the two-wheeler ecosystem have provided insights about how new features in the industry are introduced first with top-end vehicle models, which is also the trend with regards to location solutions. However, Sengupta believes the need for location services in the two-wheeler segment is clearly gaining traction. On the map and content side, HERE is of the opinion that road attributions for two-wheelers may be different from that of four-wheelers. Therefore, various factors need to be taken into consideration while building mapping applications for the two-wheeler segment, for which HERE is discussing use-cases with OEMs and service providers. Sengupta noted that OEMs can drive the adoption of location systems in a large way with regards to two-wheelers.
FUTURE OF LOCATION SERVICES
Every map has certain basic levels of details, in terms of the information provided, be it traffic lights, signs, routes or hazards. In the case of HD Maps the differentiation is with regards to the availability of entire lane information, which is facilitated by the mapping of all lanes and high-precision data collection. Lidar-based data collection is taken up by the company’s vehicles regularly, which is continuously used to update maps in real-time, also making them Live Maps. This feature of HD maps really helps the various levels of autonomous cars, said Sengupta. HERE has been working with large global OEMs towards this end.
HERE works with OEMs for new platforms as well as for existing platform refreshes with regards to navigation solutions. The company also works with Tier Is and IIs for hardware and software developments concerning location services. The map data requirements vary demographically, for which it is important to work with the entire automotive ecosystem, Sengupta pointed out. In addition, the maps are required to be updated throughout the lifecycle of the vehicle platform, which results in the need for update programmes, either Over-the-Air or at service intervals. He said the company’s learnings are influenced from the market for new map developments.
He said the amount of cars being connected is increasing, and technologies like cloud-connectivity are becoming more important for quick analysis of data. Map-based services are moving beyond just navigation, and more towards applications for shared mobility and last-mile information such as parking availability. An important aspect for the development of new solutions is maintaining the security of the large amount of collected data, in order to adhere to global data security compliances, Sengupta signed off.
TEXT: Naveen Arul