Mobility redefined: Mercedes-Benz cooperates with the start-up HERE.

View of the steering wheel of a vehicle with a modern driving assistance system

Together with the Berlin online map service HERE, Mercedes-Benz is developing intelligent maps as a key element for autonomous driving.

Intelligent maps pave the way for the future.

The map of the future is self-learning. It updates itself continuously and thus reflects as real an image of the road as possible. This is why we also speak of “intelligent maps”. They form the basis for modern driver assistance systems (ADAS, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) and autonomous driving. They are developed by the company HERE, which merged with Daimler in February 2018. The machine-readable and cloud based “HD Live Map” enables a vehicle to think “around the corner”. This means that an autonomous driving assistant already knows a few hundred meters up to a few kilometers in advance which driving situations can arise and how it must react to them.

Three-dimensional excerpt from a HERE HD Live Map

The HERE HD Live Map reflects reality in 3D.

Safely around the bend with the cloud.

How does it work? With Big Data and Machine Learning. The map uses very different sources of information and links them together in a meaningful way. The most important difference to the conventional navigation system is that it not only uses existing information such as stored map material, but also supplements it with dynamic real-time information. And this goes far beyond current traffic jam reports or weather data: With the help of sensor data, the map researches independently, so to speak, what happens in the immediate vicinity of the car and behind the next turn in the road. The system relies on high-tech: Ultrasonic measuring devices and precision cameras give the vehicle eyes and ears. A cloud, on the other hand, provides a farsighted view of the upcoming kilometers. Here the information flows from several vehicles and converges so that intelligent proposals can be calculated for individual sections of the route. For example, the HERE map can recognize a dangerous curve by the fact that other cars are driving slowly here, whereupon the autonomous driving assistant can adjust the speed.

Interior view of a vehicle equipped with HERE Live HD Maps

In the car of the future, no one has to look out onto the road.

The driver becomes a passenger.

And what do drivers see on the intelligent map? The result is a three-dimensional, high-precision real-time image of the environment in which the car can be located with an accuracy of as little as a few centimeters. That sounds like a lot of information for a screen. In reality, however, only that which is important in the respective context is highlighted. According to Daimler manager Ola Källenius and Edzard Overbeek, CEO of HERE, the map material is one of the key technologies for bringing autonomous driving to the two highest levels of development (according to SAE International) in the coming years: Full automation and driverless driving. In concrete terms, this means that the driver can sit back and relax and close his eyes if necessary. This sounds like a phrase that you normally only hear as a train or plane passenger. And indeed: In the last stage of autonomous driving, one no longer counts as a “car driver” but as a passenger of the autonomous vehicle.

An intelligent van?

For Daimler, it is a logical consequence to rely on this ground-breaking map material. The development process up to driverless driving will continue for several years. “But we can already make vehicles intelligent today by integrating things like the current weather and brake lights directly in front of us,” says HERE CEO Overbeek. HERE maps are already being used in the current A, E and S-Class models. And what about intelligent vans? In conjunction with Mercedes PRO connect, the new connectivity and fleet management solution, HERE map data is now also used in the vans as a navigation solution. This can open up new, undreamt-of possibilities for all users, from craftsmen to Van-Lifers.

Three versions of the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Future autonomous Mercedes-Benz vans would be equipped with HERE Live HD Maps.

Photos: Daimler

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