Uber , the ride-sharing company, and Waymo , the autonomous-driving startup, are separately each mapping a major city to create HD maps for self-driving cars.
Uber’s pilot city is Dallas , while Waymo is working on Los Angeles, and the maps will measure curb heights, road surfaces, speed limits, and traffic light locations, among other things.
Both companies say they are sending the first autonomous vehicles out to create the maps soon.
If you want mapping done right, do it yourself. That’s the strategy Uber and Waymo are taking about with two separate announcements about vehicles running around two major American cities, generating their own high-definition maps. Uber said it plans to send two SUVs into downtown Dallas, and Waymo announced it will use three vehicles in Los Angeles. Starting this week, Angelenos might catch a glimpse of Waymo’s cars on the streets of LA!
Our cars will be in town exploring how Waymo’s tech might fit into LA’s dynamic transportation environment and complement the City’s innovative approach to transportation.
The Waymo mapping program will take a few months as three of the company’s specially equipped Chrysler Pacifica minivans tool around Downtown and Miracle Mile collecting data. That data will include things like the exact height of a curb, the type of road surface, and the locations of traffic lights.
“These are not normal maps in the way that most people think of them,” a Waymo spokesperson told Car and Driver . “The things that our cars care about are quite different than someone trying to find their way via Google Maps or Waze. For example, it’s far more important for us to know the speed limit of the road than the name of the street.”
Waymo is not planning to offer any ride-sharing options in Los Angeles at this time.
“Our cars are simply part of a small exploratory initiative to learn about the unique driving conditions of Los Angeles and how these conditions align with the transportation solutions Waymo might be able to provide one day,” the spokesperson said.
Uber is not focused on offering rides with its mapping vehicles at this point either, but the company may some day open up that option in its self-driving vehicles, according to Eric Meyhofer, CEO of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, speaking with Dallas CBS affiliate CBS DFW . For now, the two mapping vehicles in Dallas, both teched-out Volvo XC90 SUVs, will be focused on their mapping tasks, but once the autonomous cars are roaming the streets, “You’ll get an alert saying, ‘Hey, you matched with a self-driving vehicle today. Would you like to do that?’ ” Meyhofer told the local CBS affiliate.
Uber announced in August that it is opening a new administrative hub office in Dallas that will bring 3000 jobs to the area. Uber will start its Dallas mapping program in November and held a town hall this week in Dallas to explain its plans to the public. The plan for the resulting map data is to “see what aligns with our technology road map and where we think we could potentially test self-driving [vehicles],” Meyhofer told the Dallas Morning News .
The company is also building maps in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto.