The unmanned vehicle MapLite does not need 3D maps to find the road. The machine itself is guided by roads outside the city, using only its sensors.
As a rule, companies test unmanned cars only in large cities: in any other place the car can not find the way. Cars need well-tuned 3D maps to follow the rules of traffic on roads and recognize signs, but on country roads and forest roads they do not always exist. MIT CSAIL (in cooperation with Toyota) found the solution by developing MapLite – a machine that finds the road on its own.
Using GPS, the system recognizes exactly where the car is located and uses this information to determine the destination and the way to achieve it. Based on information from their sensors, the car builds a long road, moving from one point to another. LiDAR helps to maintain a sense of the boundaries of the road (which is flatter than the surrounding area), and general patterns of behavior give an idea of what to do at intersections or non-standard roads.
This is not all that MapLite can do: mountain roads and other sharp changes in terrain remain obstacles. Despite this, the developers see a clear goal: to create an unmanned vehicle that can safely move on absolutely any road . Although 3D maps remain useful for travel in large cities, for country trips and snowy roads, machines such as MapLite will be useful.