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Location data will help safe roll-out of autonomous vehicles

Geospatial Commission highlights the role location data will have in the safe deployment of self-driving road vehicles.

18 October 2023
Finding the Way Forward,
Finding the Way Forward,


Connected, self-driving vehicles are being pitched as a way to reduce congestion and make our journeys safer and more efficient, and better serve those with accessibility needs.

A new report highlights the power of location data in the safe deployment of connected and self-driving road vehicles, and the steps needed to maximise the opportunity.

The Geospatial Commission has published a report that highlights the important role location data and technologies will play in enabling the safe deployment of connected and self-driving vehicles on the UK’s roads.

By 2035, 40% of cars in the UK could have self-driving capabilities. It is predicted that the self-driving market in the UK could be worth as much as £42bn by 2035, creating up to 38,000 new jobs.

Vehicles will rely on location data to know where they are in relation to their surroundings, including the kerbside, other vehicles and pedestrians. Innovative location technologies could enable vehicles to communicate with other road users and smart infrastructure, improving traffic flow and congestion as well as making it safer and easier for drivers. Location data and technology will have a key role in the sector, but there are challenges around data discoverability, accessibility and quality.

The report, called Finding the Way Forward, sets out what is already being done to meet these opportunities and challenges and some of the action areas for government, academia and industry to improve the quality and breadth of location data. It identifies that the sector should:

  • improve the understanding of the road environment by addressing key location data gaps
  • improve how location data and location technologies can work together by defining accuracy standards
  • improve data sharing practices to make connected vehicles’ data more accessible and reusable

Steve Unger, independent commissioner at the Geospatial Commission, said: “Connected and self-driving vehicles will revolutionise how we travel. They will make our roads safer, by eliminating avoidable accidents, and they will improve both efficiency and quality of life, through more effective management of congestion.

“They are made possible by technological advances in various areas, such as sensor technology and artificial intelligence, but the practical application of these new technologies depends critically on access to location data. Detailed mapping of the street environment, in a form that is readily discoverable, easily accessible, and of high quality, will be key to realising the potential benefits.”

The Geospatial Commission is leading a multi-year programme highlighting the opportunities for advanced geospatial applications in the transport sector. The programme has identified how location data can be maximised to support the future of mobility and next generation transport networks.

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