Could 3D Maps Lighten Congested LA traffic?

By:  |  Category: Blog Saturday, October 12th, 2019  |  No Comments

A light at the end of the tunnel for traffic in Los Angeles?

Oh wait, those are just high-beam headlights off in the distance…

Kidding! There might actually be a small but visible light if the autonomous driving company Waymo has anything to say about it.

It’s hard to imagine a large city in any area that doesn’t have the same bumper to bumper, road-rage inducing, rush hour traffic. It’s also hard to imagine the very sci-fi reality self-driving cars could produce (and it’s fast approaching). Already there 200 cars across 33 mainstream brands that have “elements of self-driving,” designed to make our daily commutes less laborious. 

That doesn’t mean we’ll be kicking back with a cup of coffee on the way work any time soon, but as cars are built with center displays that have built-in Netflix capabilities, it seems that’s where it’s headed.

There’s a race to build a safe, reliable, completely autonomous vehicle, but that can’t become a reality unless every variable is accounted for, and so far using just Google Maps isn’t going to get us there.

Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo is in Los Angeles this week to “start building elaborate 3D maps of the sprawling city,” using LA and its congestion to see if self-driving cars would be a good fit in the city. Waymo is sending out three of it’s self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans to map topographical features like curb height, potholes, lane merges, and distance and dimensions of the roads themselves.

As drivers we know how drastically these situations can vary, and how whichever voice we’ve chosen to speak our directions “please turn left in 500 feet,” doesn’t necessarily account for the 3-foot dip between us and our destination.

Using laser lidar sensors, radar and digital cameras Waymo’s vans will account for the dip and the out-of-place lane merge that causes traffic to build up in a certain area, so when self-driving cars are more readily available we can avoid the fender benders.

Eager to study the “famed” congestion of Los Angeles, Waymo’s product manager for mapping says, “congestion is a totally different thing and we’re really excited to see how that congestion kind of manifests itself,” this will start in the (most congested) Miracle Mile between Koreatown and Beverly Hills

Waymo has deployed its vehicles in areas such as San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Phoenix, Michigan, Seattle, and Miami, and it’s about to get a whole new perspective in LA traffic. So far Phoenix is the only area where its autonomous vehicles generate revenue, where vans have made successful trips with no human interaction.

Seleta Reynolds, the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation explains, “there’s a tremendous opportunity to learn about how and whether the performance of autonomous vehicles can be improved by being connected to city infrastructure.”

–Emmy Seigler




Image Source: https://www.canva.com/design/DADnLXH5euM/kXn_jJ9RUKcBa4PEa0bT_g/edit

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