Published: March 14, 2016 | Tokyo
The Japanese map supplier, Zenrin has revealed plans to bring 3D maps as a major push towards autonomous diving. The company is working on a system to translate data gathered from vehicles mounted with cameras and other equipment in real time, a Bloomberg report notes on Monday morning. The company aims to commercialize these maps by 2020 and will set up a separate division in April to directly report to the president to further strengthen its efforts in the area.
Such capability is essential in developing maps for driverless cars that Japanese automakers including Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. aim to introduce after 2020. HERE and Mobileye are also working on 3D mapping tech in collaboration with automakers like Nissan, GM and Toyota.
“There’s a huge gap between making current navigation maps and maps for autonomous driving,” said Zenrin President Zenshi Takayama at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo. “It’s like comparing climbing Mount Fuji to climbing Mount Everest.”
Such efforts are being stepped up as automakers across the world work on the technology to make self-driving cars a reality. As many as 12 million autonomous cars are forecast to be sold globally in 2035, accounting for about 10 percent of total car sales, according to IHS Automotive.
Zenrin is 7.5 percent owned by Toyota and counting on this new push to be a growth driver as competition erodes revenue from its key businesses such as smartphone map services and car navigation maps. Zenrin posted two consecutive financial-year periods of sales and operating profit declines through March 2015. Its shares rose 1.8 percent to 2,007 yen as of 12:36 p.m. in Tokyo trading.