Sanborn developed proprietary technology for creating standardised, high-precision 3D base maps for self-driving vehicles. Bentley’s ContextCapture Center enabled Sanborn to generate the 3D reality mesh that allows automakers to visualise the context for HD maps at a 7 to 10 centimeter resolution.
An industry leader in geospatial solutions and technology, The Sanborn Map Company Inc is helping to make self-driving cars a reality by creating high-definition (HD) maps used by test-drive simulators for autonomous vehicles. Sanborn partnered with auto manufacturers in a $ 100,000 project that demonstrated the precision of purpose-built HD maps. Using aerial oblique imagery of the target area in Santa Clara County, California Sanborn generated a 3D reality mesh with Bentley’s ContextCapture Center software, then overlaid proprietary HD base map data that is accurate within an absolute range of 7 to 10 centimeters.
Visualising the high-precision HD map in the context of a high-resolution 3D urban environment elicited auto company requests for repeat demos internally and with department of transportation regulatory authorities. Bentley applications allowed Sanborn to quickly create 3D reality meshes that would ordinarily take three modelers six months to complete. This made the technology more affordable, allowing Sanborn to provide exceptional value to clients.
“Self-driving cars are no longer a futuristic idea. Major auto manufacturers have already released, or are soon to release, self-driving features that give the car some ability to drive itself. Through the 3D mesh generated using ContextCapture Center, Sanborn’s Advanced Technology group has been able to showcase the quality of the HD map data, including true-ground-absolute accuracy, to its partner automotive firms. Automating the production of city-sized 3D model with ContextCapture Center made the project much faster than previously possible,” said Sharad V Oberoi, Director of IT and Software Engineering, Sanborn Map.
Founded in 1866 to produce fire insurance maps, Sanborn evolved with the changing market for imaging and mapping services and today is a first mover in the emerging market for HD maps. Sanborn’s Advanced Technology group has developed proprietary HD mapping technology that creates standardised, high-precision 3D base maps for self-driving vehicle models and markets. The HD maps contain more detailed information with true-ground, absolute accuracy than is available in conventional resources such as GPS maps. Compared to current mapping systems that can locate a car’s position within 1 meter, HD maps can position a vehicle within less than 10 centimeters.
Sanborn provides precise real-world context for HD map data by creating 3D reality models of the environs, drawing upon its expertise in aerial oblique imagery, aerial LiDAR data, and mobile (driven) LiDAR data. For image processing, the map company uses ContextCapture Center, Bentley’s reality modeling software for 3D models of any scale. ContextCapture Center generates the 3D engineering-ready reality mesh that Sanborn’s HD map data overlays to create the purpose-built, map-based data sets automotive makers need for their virtual worlds.
The 3D reality mesh provided precise real-world context for Sanborn’s HD maps. With many densely packed triangles, draped textures, and snap points, the 3D mesh created the fine details, sharp edges, and accurate geometry required by the automotive partners. The geo-referencing made it possible to identify the precise locations that intersect with Sanborn’s HD map data (collected in absolute XYZ space). The project team overlaid the 3D mesh data with Sanborn’s HD map data to provide all the critical information a driverless vehicle needs to safely navigate roadways and intersections.
Combined with Sanborn’s HD maps, which are accurate within an absolute range of 7 to 10 centimeters, the high-resolution 3D mesh provided a meticulously detailed inventory of physical assets for the roadways, such as lane markings and dividers, road edges and shoulders, and traffic signals and signage. Inclusion of surrounding buildings, generated by ContextCapture Center and enhanced using Bentley Descartes, produced a city-sized reality model for a more genuine driving experience. Together the HD maps and 3D mesh were integrated into virtual reality simulation tools for testing autonomous vehicles. Using the FBX (Filmbox) format made the process seamless.
Showcasing the complex HD maps in a 3D urban setting provided context for high-precision features such as road lanes, and traffic signs and signals as well as surrounding buildings. The project highlighted the level of road intelligence that could be achieved in a 3D reality model. As they explore the virtual landscape for autonomous driving tests, several automotive partners are using Sanborn’s 3D demonstrations internally as well as in meetings with department of transportation regulatory personnel.
By making a modest investment of time and resources, Sanborn showcased HD maps for autonomous driving and received positive responses from the participating automakers. With a premier collection of oblique imagery, Sanborn is poised to expand its HD map offering
for autonomous vehicles, which have a promising future. Among the much-touted benefits, self-driving cars promise less stress for drivers, more mobility for non-drivers, and less congestion
and fewer accidents on roadways.
Given the opportunities, Sanborn’s proprietary technology could fuel a lucrative market.