Mapping firm invites auto industry to improve spec for sharing vehicle sensor data

Industry body Ertico-ITS Europe has agreed to continue developing the Sensoris specification

A key specification for exchanging sensor data between vehicles has found a new sponsor, in a move that may help future drivers avoid dangers before they see them.

New vehicles are increasingly laden with sensors -- accelerometers, thermometers, radar and lidar (light detection and range) -- and the best of them can use the streams of incoming data to warn of or even avoid hazards such as ice or obstacles.

But what if they could share information about changes to a road since the map was last updated or even warn one another of a stopped vehicle hidden by a blind curve? Vehicles might then be able to choose more efficient routes or avoid the need for sudden braking.

That was the plan of digital mapping company Here when it published its specification for Sensoris (Sensor Ingestion Interface Specification) a year ago. Sensoris defines how vehicles pass information about the road conditions they have encountered to servers in the cloud, which can then share useful information with other vehicles that report they are in the same area.

Sensoris messages contain two mandatory components: an envelope tagged with the essential characteristics of the vehicle, and a path composed of a list of timestamped position estimates. Messages can also contain path events, either discrete or continuous in nature, describing input from vehicle sensors. These might indicate the slope of the road, or whether the wheels are slipping.

To be useful, a platform needs to gather input from as many vehicles as possible, not just those made by the same manufacturer, owned by the same rental fleet, or subscribed to the same mobile operator or webmail service.

That's why Here has sought out the help of Ertico-ITS Europe, a European transport industry body, to further develop the specification as one of Ertico's "innovation platforms." The new neutral home for Sensoris makes it more likely that more auto makers -- and even mapping and navigation device makers -- will adopt it.

Ertico's other innovation platforms include the linking of maps to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADASIS) to improve navigation and fuel economy and the creation of better traffic management systems.

The Sensoris platform has already drawn participation from auto maker Daimler (a Here shareholder), LG Electronics, infotainment system maker Pioneer, and navigation device maker TomTom, among others, Here said Wednesday.

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