Victor Haydin
Blog post

Volkswagen and HERE on Autonomous Driving

VW and HERE shed light on what’s trending now in automotive and how it shapes the autonomous ecosystem

6 mins read

Imagine Elon Musk flew away to Mars and took all of his autopilot Tesla cars with him. Would it stop driverless technology from evolving? Not for a moment.

The self-driving car has already captured millions of minds. Big companies, startups, car makers and automotive software vendors are joining this transformation race to automate routing, navigation, and location data processing. Intellias is not an exception. So, no worries, we will definitely have enough hands to pull driving to its full autonomy.

Who leads the autonomous driving patent race?

Volkswagen and HERE on Autonomous Driving

To help advance self-driving technologies, Intellias brought together Volkswagen, HERE, AirMap, MAPS.ME, Juno, and Mapbox for its third annual Map Solutions Conference 2017 in Lviv. The Map Solutions Conference is a tech talk event aimed at growing the Ukrainian automotive community and advancing our own team’s expertise in cutting-edge automotive technologies.

After delivering their presentations, speakers from HERE and Volkswagen shared their thoughts on the hot trends and innovations in the automotive industry that are pouring fuel on the self-driving madness.

Check out the key takeaways from our interviews with conference speakers on how to accelerate the autonomous revolution.

Increase visibility with HD maps and real-time data

The initial idea was ambitious: a car would navigate a route by itself, using only its own sensors (LIDAR, RADAR, sonar, and cameras). After a few fails, this concept was rejected. It turns out that full autonomy requires more than just 200 to 300 meters of visibility, even if from every angle. An autonomous car has to respond to data about traffic as far as 200 to 300 kilometers ahead. And this should be real-time data updated over the air.

Volkswagen and HERE on Autonomous Driving

For now, carmakers and Tier 1 companies recognize the need to embed real-time data in multilayer HD maps that can build a live picture of the surroundings and inform self-driving technologies about further actions. From the point of HERE, self-driving cars require HD maps just like any other cars need fuel.

Sensors, other connected cars ahead, smart infrastructure, and the cloud – they all combine a great collection of data. This data has to rely on software to build a natural landscape for cars. It has to be changeable, flexible, and scalable for real-time events. And this software is a map itself. What we’ll see is a shift from a map as geodata canvas to the HD multilayer map as a software platform. So not just maps, but a comprehensive system to predict events long before they happen to automate car navigation.

Peter Caron, Director of Automation at HERE

Intellias has worked on multiple projects where HD maps formed the entire software development platform for operating with real-time data. Our experience shows that this trend of the real-time in-car intelligence is gaining momentum.

Read more: Learn how we implemented a trusted map update that opened new business opportunities in the IoT market

Respond to the ever-changing environment faster with ADAS

Think of a runner on the steeplechase track. The promising athlete should have a fast reflex and stretch muscles to react on the obstacle fast enough to jump over. Just like a human body, a self-driving car converts visible data into actions. For a runner in a steeplechase competition, obstacles are static and carefully placed. But the environment around a car is constantly changing. The critical response time is reduced to seconds, if not less.

Volkswagen and HERE on Autonomous Driving

For a car, ADAS plays the role of a fast reflex, and its actuators are the muscles. They give a car the ability to react in a flash moment and safely overcome obstacles. So, if your solution is aimed at provision of a full autonomy, you should rely on the latest ADASIS v2/v3 protocols and proprietary formats that enable a car to see, think, and react.

Currently, ADAS has its influence on the comfort and safety of the driving tasks, and its main steps are to reduce zero vision, fatalities, and fully automate driving in the future. Without a doubt, ADAS is the main building block for the great goal of Volkswagen autonomous vehicles, and this trend will be loud on the market next year.

Thomas Weidner, Architect at Volkswagen

Global ADAS unit shipments by 2020

Volkswagen and HERE on Autonomous Driving

Read more: Learn how we helped equip German premium cars with the most advanced driver assistance functions on the market

Combine mobile UX/UI and automotive know-how to improve HMI

How do you start building a trustworthy relationship with another person? For sure, you start with a conversation. By communicating you become aware of the other person’s intentions. If you’re attentive, you might even recognize behavioral patterns that help you predict the person’s actions.

But what about a car? We’re not used to cars having independence in making decisions about where to turn or when to stop. Before taking an action, a car should also communicate its intentions. This communication needs to occur in time and be clear to the driver.

Volkswagen and HERE on Autonomous Driving

A Human Machine Interface breaks the ice between the driver and the autonomous car. But this doesn’t mean you should put touch screens everywhere. It’s time to think about combining the best practices from both the mobile and automotive industries. To accomplish this, you need HMI developers with specialized automotive experience.

I think the next step should be improving hardware and software engineering for proper applications and interfaces embedded into the VW self-driving cars. They need to create a connection between a human and different car units to perform environment perception, path planning, and coordination of various actuators in a way that’s understandable for people. So, HMI software is the main path – and especially the combination of different software experiences. We have to use the best of both worlds, mobile design and automotive practice.

Thomas Weidner, Architect at Volkswagen
Read more: Learn how we built navigation HMI components for premium in-car infotainment systems, bringing routing and guidance excellence to the luxury car segment

Open your data to encourage engineers and accelerate development process

By creating your own autonomous solution, you can protect yourself from outside intruders. On the other hand, creating your own solution will slow down development and take more effort. To streamline development process, you might consider an open development platform that integrates data from various industries and unites independent suppliers.

Volkswagen and HERE on Autonomous Driving

Open-source development solves the problem of data fragmentation. Useful data is everywhere – you just need to gather it and sort it out. With an open platform, you can combine, analyze, and then use each fragment of data to fill a particular gap.

HERE autonomous driving technology has been developing thanks to an entire fleet of cars connected to their Open Location Platform that is provided by the leading car manufacturers. This connectivity gives more “eyes and ears” to get real-time data about traffic, signs, and surroundings. As a result, we get a comprehensive picture of the world where autonomous cars can safely navigate our roads.

We see now the growth of automation and real-time decision-making and an amount of data that was not expected before. We can’t stick to the old style of software development. What we need is to combine all this data from every channel and adapt it for the autonomous market.

Peter Caron, Director of Automation at HERE

For this moment, it’s clear that autonomous driving is creating an entirely new market for OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers to introduce their automotive-focused services and solutions. What you do next is completely up to you. Either keep your existing products distant from the new trends or join the autonomous race firing on all cylinders.


If you’re stuck at a crossroads and can’t decide which way to go with self-driving technology, get in touch with our automotive experts. We’re always happy to help you.

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