Addison Lee Group, the global ground transportation business, and Oxbotica, the British leader in self-driving vehicle software, have launched a unique, 3D street mapping exercise in London’s iconic Canary Wharf. It is being considered as a significant milestone in the roll out of Addison Lee’s autonomous services by 2021.
The mapping process will create the backdrop for new, autonomous services which meet urban requirements for efficient transport, reduced congestion and improved air quality.
The companies, together with Canary Wharf Group and insurer AXA XL, have already started the process, using a vehicle equipped with mapping technology to record every kerb, road sign, landmark and traffic light in Canary Wharf’s 128-acre estate. This is the first stage of a mapping exercise across London, where more than 250,000 miles of public roads will be mapped in order to better understand the requirements for rolling out a fully autonomous service.
Mapping already underway
Partnership vehicles have already started the mapping exercise, with radars that help Oxbotica understand the environment, cameras to take in images of the streets and lidar sensors that send out laser pulses to sense the surroundings. This enables Oxbotica to build a rich 3D map of the area, which is then analysed to identify important features such as traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and road markings.
Oxbotica will use this data to help understand the contents of street signs, and the meanings of the lane markings on the road to enable the vehicle to be as knowledgeable as a local resident about the complexities of each street. The company will repeat this process many times, and at different times, improving the understanding of how the streets change in different lighting conditions, weather and seasons of the year.
When the autonomous vehicle travels down these same streets, it builds the same picture and matches it to the map, using the knowledge about traffic light location and lane markings to help localise itself and be aware of what’s around the next corner.
Autonomous vehicles could be part of the answer to urban transport
Oxbotica’s insurance partner, AXA XL – a division of AXA – is insuring the exercise. AXA XL has significant experience in the field of autonomous technologies, having signed a landmark agreement with Oxbotica in 2016 to examine the technology’s potential impact on risk management. In May 2018, it announced a suite of insurance solutions to support the commercial adoption of mobile robotic solutions.
Canary Wharf has emerged as one of the fastest growing tech clusters in London. Level39, the tech community with over 200-member companies, has become the home to start-ups looking to scale at pace. Previous tenants included both Digital Shadows and Revolut, the UK’s latest tech unicorn. Canary Wharf Group has just completed the first live trial of 5G technology in the UK and announced plans for a new development called Wood Wharf, which adjoins Canary Wharf and will house 20,000 tech and creative jobs.