Google Launches New HD Maps With Precise Road Details, Including Traffic Signs

Google’s commitment to its automotive ambitions comes down not only to Android Auto and Google Maps, but also to more advanced systems that are supposed to help vehicles power their assisted driving tech.
The HD maps of Android Automotive-powered vehicles are getting a major overhaul 10 photos
Photo: Polestar
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And this week, the search giant announced new HD maps that are specifically aimed at L2+ and L3 vehicles, with the company explaining that it specifically focused on precise road details, such as lane markers, signs, and road barriers.

While this is without a doubt good news for the automotive industry, the HD maps won’t be available for users in the form of an application or bundled with Google Maps. They are only supposed to be used by select vehicles running Android Automotive specifically to power-assisted and autonomous driving technology.

In other words, Google’s new HD maps are bundled with the operating system that powers the assisted and hands-free driving experience, so there’s a chance that you won’t even notice the vehicle is running the new software.

Google says only Volvo EX90 and Polestar 3 are currently fitted with the new HD maps, but most likely, the lineup of models supporting the new software would be further expanded in the coming months with additional vehicles.

For the search company, this is a critical release for its future in the automotive industry.

New research published earlier this week placed Google in the second place of the mapping race, close to rival HERE, pretty much because the search giant’s penetration in the automotive market isn’t necessarily as advanced as the one of its competitors. The company is lagging behind in terms of partnerships with carmakers, and while Google Maps is indeed serving as a popular navigation app for consumers, Google’s partnerships with traditional car manufacturers are only making slow progress.

With the new HD maps, Google is clearly increasing its presence in this space, though for now, the company is just sticking with baby steps to make sure everything is working just as expected. Google says the new HD maps will only be available on select roadways, but no further specifics have been offered, so it’s pretty much impossible for a driver to know precisely when the updated software is kicking in.

Without a doubt, Google is aiming for a seamless integration of HD maps into the software arsenal used by a smart car, and today’s announcement greatly expands the capabilities of Android Automotive. The adoption of the operating system is still improving at a slow pace, despite the clear benefits that it provides to both carmakers and drivers.

As compared to Android Auto, Android Automotive is a pre-loaded platform that is deeply connected with vehicle systems, being able to read more vehicle data, including the battery range and the air conditioning settings.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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