Eyes on the Road—Sensors on Wheels for Smart City Models
Mitchell Gracie posted on January 18, 2019 |
Vehicles with Intel Mobileye 8 Connect will provide geospatial information in the UK. (Image courtesy of Ordnance Survey.)
Vehicles with Intel Mobileye 8 Connect will provide geospatial information in the UK. (Image courtesy of Ordnance Survey.)

Some vehicles in the UK will soon be turning the data they collect from their sensors over to the government. But rather than try to catch Brits for speeding or to spy on its citizens, this data will be used to create a rich, detailed 3D model of the nation’s cities.

Intel acquired Mobileye in 2017, paying a whopping $15 billion for the Israeli-based creator of cameras and software for autonomous vehicles. It was the largest acquisition ever in the startup-rich Israel. The acquisition immediately made Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, a major player in what will no doubt be the next revolution in transportation.

Mobileye is not keeping still. It has announced apartnership with Ordnance Survey (OS), the national mapping agency of Great Britain, and will outfit a fleet of the agency’s vehicles with Mobileye’s advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS), Mobileye 8 Connect. With the system on board, the vehicles will collect information to update the country’s national geospatial database.

Amnon Shashua, CEO, CTO and cofounder of Mobileye, hopes that “using maps to improve operations between businesses and cities will help bring us closer to the realization of smart cities and safer roads.”

The new announcement comes a year after an announcement at CES 2018 of the partnerships with ride-share leaders, municipalities, and government administrations to map their cities, including London. Since then, Ordnance Survey has successfully integrated Mobileye’s harvested data from that pilot project into Britain’s geospatial database, OS MasterMap.

Moreover, as 5G inches toward a launch (2020?), engineers and innovators at Mobileye and OS are asking how 5G can help cities.

Neil Ackroyd, CEO of Ordnance Survey, said their “partnership with Mobileye further enhances our commitment to supporting Britain as a world-leading center for digital and tech excellence,” and “will continue to invest and innovate to support our utility customers and in new discovery projects such as CAV [connected and autonomous vehicles], 5G and IoT.”

The agreement offers solutions that aerial photography and satellite images cannot provide. Be it the placement of CCTV cameras, the façade of a building, or landmarks covered by canopies, there are assets and infrastructure whose locations and states cannot be observed from above. Instead, surveyors and analysts will use the information gathered by Mobileye to then be “cross-referenced with existing geospatial datasets … to help develop accurate maps of Britain’s roads and surrounding areas with amazing detail and precision.” That is, instead of any eye in the sky, the partners plan to inform the involved government and industry sectors by using data directly collected from city streets. Those sectors, like utility companies, “can leverage the service to maintain the precise location of their assets on the ground, such as manhole covers, lamp posts, telephone poles and more.”

All around Europe, the trend toward smart cities continues to gain momentum. Engineers and innovators need data about the locations and states of their already existing infrastructure to plan their cities’ path toward a smart revolution. That need is precisely why this announcement from Mobileye and Ordnance Survey heralds a new and exciting era for the United Kingdom to come.


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