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Automated Driving 3 min read

What are automated driving zones and why do they matter?

Automated Driving Zones blog

For automated driving capabilities to work, automakers need to establish when and where it is safe for the vehicle to take over. Automated driving zones are the answer.

Once the initial hype has died down from new technologies, the hard work starts of figuring out how and when they can be used in real life. This is where we are now with automated driving.

“Everybody had high expectations of self-driving cars," said Sjoerd Spaargaren, Product Marketing Manager – Automated Driving at HERE. “Back in 2013, 2014, we thought we would be driven from our homes to our offices in a car without a steering wheel by now, but it hasn't happened yet."

Traditional car manufacturers are taking the evolutionary path, gradually moving up the SAE levels of automation. Meanwhile, tech companies are going with a more revolutionary approach. They are aiming straight for level four and above – but high levels of risk and investment are required if they are to succeed. For the OEMs, there are different challenges.

“From level three onwards, the car takes over," Spaargaren said. “And this is where the manufacturer becomes liable in the case of an accident. This is the area where a lot of them are stuck."

A bird's eye view of a car on a highway

Enter the ODD

An operational design domain (ODD) defines where and under what conditions a vehicle is allowed to take over from the driver. It is essential if automated driving functionalities are to be used safely.

The ODD can be different for different vehicles and created by an operator choosing different configurations. It depends on accurate, up-to-date maps so the vehicle can locate itself, before planning and then finally acting.

Location forecast: automotive trends 2023

HERE Automated Driving Zones uses HERE SD and HD maps along with additional dynamic content, such as traffic and hazard information. Users can choose between a web app and an API, and it supports both manual and automated ways of interacting.

“The OEM will decide where the ODD will be," Spaargaren explained. “They need to understand where there is a highway and where it ends, and where heavy traffic or bad weather is going to be in order to define and then manage it."

Automated Driving Zones can also be used in restricted or off-road areas, such as mines, harbors, warehouses and factories. Companies can add their own private mapping information to the HERE map to create a complete picture of the area the vehicle will operate in.

In some cases, automated vehicles are easier to deploy in these zones as there are fewer unexpected events for them to contend with.

While level five automated cars aren't driving us to the office just yet, tools such as Automated Driving Zones are moving the industry forward.

Beth McLoughlin 2023

Beth McLoughlin

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