‘5G is ON’ at Huawei’s massive booth at MWC Shanghai on June 26, 2019. (Image credit: TechNode/Jiayi Shi) Huawei obtained a permit last Friday allowing the tech giant to draw up high-definition navigation maps in China, a move that will aid the development of simulation software for autonomous vehicles.
Why it matters: The securement of mapping licenses is a key step for Chinese self-driving players who want to collect and reserve such data for training driverless vehicles. China strictly prohibits companies from collecting data on mapping and surveying in the country without approvals. Only a handful of Chinese entities have received such permits to date and they are mostly state-owned enterprises.
Details: The country’s natural resources ministry granted the permit on Friday which removes barriers for Huawei, a key Tier 1 supplier for future smart connected vehicles. Huawei aims to offer auto technology solutions in three areas: 4G/5G telecommunication modules for connectivity; processing chips as artificial “brains” for self-driving cars; and cloud services for AV development like simulations and real testing, said Rotating-Chairman Eric Xu at this year’s Auto Shanghai show in April.
A number of Chinese automakers including Geely are also planning to apply for the permit to further their push in self-driving cars, Caixin cited a person familiar with the matter as saying.
Other permit holders include major online navigation service providers such as Baidu, Alibaba’s Amap, and Tencent-backed Navinfo.
Context: Simulation, in which virtual road networks are built using sensor data that cars collect in the real world, has been a useful tool to help in the development and training of autonomous vehicles. Self-driving companies can train their cars via simulation initially and then fine-tune them in the real world, which reduces a large amount of time, data and funds needed when development models.
One of the most striking examples is Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving project, which boasts a fleet of around 25,000 virtual self-driving cars that drive up to 8 million miles daily via simulations, according to the company’s latest blog post .