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Image credit: TRI-AD/Carmera

Toyota experiment uses cameras to create city maps for self-driving cars

It could dramatically improve awareness for driverless vehicles.

Self-driving cars usually benefit from having detailed road maps, but creating those maps can be agonizingly slow when it requires cars loaded with exotic hardware. Toyota researchers and Carmera might have an easier solution: use off-the-shelf cameras to get the job done. They're planning a "proof of concept" project where they'll use both Toyota Safety Sense-based cameras and run-of-the-mill dashcams to generate map data in downtown Tokyo. The months-long experiment will mix visual and existing digital map data to spot road markings, curbs and other details an autonomous vehicle would need to recognize while plotting its route.

It's not clear what will happen after the project is over, but Toyota characterized this as a "first step" toward an automated mapping system that would work with everyday cars. That, in turn, could make driverless vehicles far more practical. You could have autonomous driving maps available for virtually every road, not just those where the technology companies can justify deploying specialized vehicles.

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