As autonomous vehicles develop around the world, we’re seeing a greater need for accurate data, both in live and static forms.
Live data enables dynamic routing, but it can be hard to pass the data from device to device quickly enough. A 5G network could help this issue, but it may take years to become a reality.
Static data is equally important as you need to have accurate base data which shows the difference between a road and a pavement, where a vehicle is allowed to drive, and any routing restrictions or speed limits. OS & GeoPlace have been working on this via the OS MasterMap Highways Network product, with Department for Transport investing £3 million pounds in its creation.
At Basemap, we’ve spent the past three years looking into data; both to improve what exists, and to supplement missing data essential to autonomous vehicles. Local government often use OS road data to predict, forecast and route along, but felt they were missing a speed element, which could improve accurate routing times.
Looking to solve this issue, we found a third-party supplier of raw telematics data, which currently took effort to manipulate into a useable format for local authorities. We then launched a product which could make the data easily useable by local authorities. This enabled them to query their roads, find average road speeds on set dates and times and then monitor how congestion or average speeds changed when the introduced changes to roads.
Basemap TM Speeds
Over time we developed and launched TM Speeds, which summarises across a calendar year the average speed on each link across six time periods. Our clients are using it to route emergency services, ensuring the right vehicle appliance is dispatched to an incident; by mail delivery companies who are looking to optimise the delivery of their letters and parcels; and by clients who want to improve their modelling, looking to calculate congestion and how a new housing estate could affect this.
We then identified clients who wanted to calculate where high speed events occur, and despite having a detailed road network with an average speed, were missing the speed limit data. We started a project to capture speed limit data across Britain’s roads, working with a partner organisation to try a product that could be seen as a definitive speed limit dataset, very much like OS Highways is aiming to be the definitive road network. In 2017, we released the first BM SpeedLimits dataset. It provided data for each of the road links and was sourced from FOI requests, surveys, telematics data and an online tool.
Basemap BM SpeedLimits
BM SpeedLimits can monitor driver performance for speeding for insurance purposes – so, if a driver is travelling at 40mph in a 30mph zone, this can be fed back, and a driver score, or insurance premium can be adjusted accordingly. Or when used with average speed data, it can be used to evaluate road safety, is speeding occurring, and are there accidents as a result?
The data is also being used to limit the speed of a vehicle, above and beyond a general maximum speed cap. A client has built and created an adaptive automatic speed limiting device and you can imagine the benefits of stopping cars speeding in 30mph zones. As we get closer to autonomous vehicles the same rules apply here, the last thing you want is your Tesla being caught speeding. This is where accurate data is essential to stop this happening.
This is why Ordnance Survey has taken both of these products and made them available to their partner network, to have a definitive road network you need to have speed data, and this base data will become all the more important as we drive towards a future of autonomy.