General Motors has filed a patent application for a system that continuously updates a vehicle’s on-board maps and navigation guidance using blockchain technology.
From an article in The Detroit Bureau by Joseph Szczesny. Thanks to good friend Joe Betit for his critical insight on this important geospatial development.
GM said its patent application covers, “A system for updating a distributed navigation map for a motor vehicle includes one or more sensors that evaluates and characterizes a surrounding around the motor vehicle and a discrepancy detector that identifies differences in the surrounding compared to a known navigation map based on information received from the one or more sensors.”
“The differences are transmitted to a blockchain map network,” the application said.
Mapping is considered one of the most critical of a system required by fully autonomous vehicles.
The system, which was invented by GM Global Technologies based in Detroit rather than Cruise, GM’s San Francisco-based AV subsidiary, would use blockchain to integrate data from vehicle sensors and build a reliable map for autonomous vehicles.
The patent filing, which was submitted on Oct. 1, 2018, and published on April 2, 2020, notes that existing maps are “difficult to keep dynamic without incurring large costs.”
Basically the system evaluates a vehicle’s surroundings with one or more sensors “identifying with a discrepancy detector differences in the surrounding compared to a known navigation map based on information received from the one or more sensors; and transmitting the differences to a blockchain map network through a telematics module, the identified differences including GPS information, wherein the differences are a blockchain candidate transaction compared to a blockchain navigation map.”
One potential reason for this is that most maps are maintained through specialized vehicles, whose reach will necessarily be limited to just a few specific sections of the world.
General Motors’ solution is to distribute the process to many vehicles, which would collect data about their surroundings through sensors as they simply drive around. The real-time data would be compared with a discrepancy detector, which analyzes the existing maps.
Any difference is transmitted to a blockchain network that holds all the map data. The “candidate transaction” is then validated if other vehicles report a similar change. The patent suggests that the network would be maintained by vehicles and mining nodes located in data centers.
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