The battle for autonomous car supremacy is being fought on many fronts and waged with billions spent on sensors, software and artificial intelligence. But essential to self-driving technology is precise and detailed mapping of not only roads but also transportation infrastructure and the vicinity in which autonomous vehicles operate.
Mobileye’s Road Experience Management (REM) platform uses the company’s ubiquitous in-car cameras to gather real-time road data for self-driving cars. But while millions of cars have Mobileye cameras, many more drivers carry with them a smartphone that can capture similar data at a much lower cost – and that dashcam app maker Nexar want to use for cities and self-driving cars.
The free iOS and Android app from Nexar offers many of the features associated with smartphone dashcams, such as collision detection and warnings and automatic hard-braking detection to record a car accident. The app also adds the ability to network with other drivers to get warnings of trouble ahead, and what Nexar calls “on-device artificial intelligence to create a digital map to capture … road obstacles, traffic conditions and the state of infrastructure.”
Today, Nexar announced a new initiative called CityStream that the company said leverages smartphones that millions of drivers already own, “turning every vehicle into a sensor that visually scans the road providing invaluable insights.” While the immediate goal is to create digital road maps and localized real-time data to share with “cities looking for actionable insights into traffic patterns, real-time vehicle routing, city dynamics and infrastructure management,” CitySteam can also make streets safer for self-driving cars by capturing more accurate roadway detail.
Nexar already has a large fleet of vehicles on roads capturing data thanks to use of the app, which includes an internal-camera mode, by ride-sharing companies. Nexar said since the app was introduced in 2015, it has recorded more than 5 million miles of driving while riding shotgun with Uber and Lyft drivers, and CEO and co-founder Eran Shir also said that automakers have inquired about incorporating the company’s technology into their cars.
Of course, collecting this data could raise privacy concerns. But Lior Strahilevitz, a law professor at the University of Chicago, told IEEE Spectrum that “courts generally say that people have little or no expectation of privacy in the movements of their cars on public roads, as long as cars aren’t being tracked everywhere they go for a lengthy period of time.”
Originally published by Forbes.com