The mapping services are an important area of investment for companies nowadays. Google is currently the industry leader but may soon be ousted by Nokia. The Finnish manufacturer has exhibited new vehicles that have already started collecting the data in the main cities of 27 countries. The goal is to create maps for the HERE Maps service with higher resolution 3D panoramic images. Nokia promises HERE Maps will have a higher quality than Google Street View.

The “kit” consists of Volkswagen Jetta TDI and Subaru Forester (or Crosstrek), NovAtel GPS antenna, a HDL-32E LiDAR sensor, four 16.2-Megapixel camera with a field of view of 180 degrees and a NovAtel SPAN-CPT inertial meter. Unlike the equipment of the first generation, which required the modification of the roof and the installation of sensors at the wheels, version 2.0 uses a common Thule rack and rugged houses positioned in the car. It only takes 30 minutes to convert a regular car into a vehicle for the collection of cartographic data.

With the high accuracy of the LIDAR laser scanner, the four cameras and the 3D technology developed by Earthmine (acquired by Nokia in November 2012), the new system captures high resolution images (68 megapixels) with  color fidelity and a dynamic range than the previous system. The LIDAR records almost 700,000 3D data points at a time, not only the markings but also signs street names and facades of buildings within a radius of 200 meters. The data is sent to a Linux-based x86 computer, equipped with 1TB SATA removable hard drive and powered by the vehicle’s battery.

The whole system is controlled by an app developed by Nokia and Earthmine — HERE True Control, running on a Surface Pro tablet fixed to the dashboard. In addition to recording data from the sensors, the software provides voice commands for navigation in order to complete the entire path minimizing repetitions (just a redundancy of 30%). The connection to the server is made ​​with a Nokia Lumia 920, also used to get the directions.

The Finnish admits they lags behind Street View, but believes, with the new Nokia HERE Maps they will soon overtake Google Maps.

Video Credit: Engadget