While this is a fairly typical view for the driver of a MoMa car, drivers like Carl often get to see more exciting and interesting scenes too.
How far, or how many hours, do you drive in a day?
As drivers, we work based on daylight. I can work up to an hour after sunset and an hour before sunrise. In winter that’s not much – maybe 8:00am to 3:30pm, depending on where you are. Summer is when most of us are excited to get on the road, as we can drive for as many as twelve hours at a time.
The car is equipped with lasers and cameras. While lasers can function regardless of light level, cameras need daylight for the picture quality to not be affected.
These important pictures are used for addressing, getting information on businesses, overpasses, and other features valuable not only for routing but also for trucking. One thing I’ve learned is that street signs are not always accurate! The combination of the lasers and the camera records depth. The cameras are positioned at the top of the car using 6 lenses taking 360 photos, including one camera pointed directly upwards, one picture every 8-10 meters.
We’re often approached as a mapping solution because TomTom has a successful record regarding privacy. Where do you see privacy coming into play in your area of work, if at all?
Sure. The camera data collected from our drives never goes public – so concerns about faces, finger wavers, or people flipping me off showing up on a public street view are not a concern for us.
Editor’s note: While this is a colorful description of the process, it is true that the photos taken from our mapping cars are not publicly available and are stored securely with restricted access, as part of a commitment to privacy. The camera data is used only for our own optimization of our maps over time.
Not all roads are created equal. What can make a drive challenging? The terrain, road styles, locale, events? What is the most disruptive?
There are the typical challenges, like Bay Area traffic — autonomous driving is tested there for a reason… if a car can drive itself there, it can probably survive anywhere — and there are some pretty interesting ones.