Indeed, if you live along the millions of miles of U.S. roads that are unpaved, unlit or unreliably marked, you’re out of luck. Such streets are often much more complicated to map, and get a lot less traffic, so companies are unlikely to develop 3D maps for them anytime soon. From California’s Mojave Desert to Vermont’s White Mountains, there are huge swaths of America that self-driving cars simply aren’t ready for.
One way around this is to create systems advanced enough to navigate without these maps. In an important first step, a team from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed MapLite, a new framework that allows self-driving cars to drive on roads they’ve never been on before without 3D maps.