Is this car capturing our town for Google Maps?
Is this car capturing our town for Google Maps?

Street photos the start of a self-driving future

IF you've seen a car driving around the streets of Grafton snapping photos, you don't need to worry about smiling for your next Google search, it is preparing for a world where you may not even need to touch the wheel of your car to get to your chosen destination.

The distinctive blue car with a camera protruding from the roof has been seen roaming the streets of Grafton in the past week, and Nick Preston, HERE Technologies Product Manager said it often caused comment whenever it showed up.

"Sightings of a blue car saddled with mapping equipment can, understandably, make passers-by abuzz," he said.

"Part of the reason we were in Northern NSW recently was to enable what we do today and as well as what we want to do tomorrow. We want to be the solution that powers autonomous infrastructure. At HERE, we're using this data to prepare for a future of autonomous cars and smarter cities through the creation of HD maps."

Rather than provide a "Street-view" style product for consumers, Mr Preston said the data was used within many often hidden pieces of technology.

"Unbeknownst to most people, our map data is embedded in 70 per cent of sat-navs in Australia, helps companies like Dominos deliver pizzas on time and emergency services dispatch vehicles effectively," he said.

"Our map data collection cars drive the road equipped with technology including highly-accurate GPS, Lidar technology (commonly used for 3D modelling) and a 360-degree camera. The data they collect is analysed and combined with multiple other data sources (like satellite imagery) to help us improve our map accuracy and provide a near real-time representation of the road network

"As the cars travel through public roads they collect data which includes not only the roads themselves but road signs, speed limits, points of interest and even the quality of the road surface. Persons and license plates are all blurred before publication for privacy reasons."

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