Defining the ‘Plus’ in L2+

How Mobileye Crowdsourced Mapping Data Heightens a Car’s Senses for Semi-Autonomous Driving in Complex Driving Environments

With safety as our North Star, Mobileye introduced the L2+ category in 2017 to apply the life-saving potential of AV technology to today’s vehicles, making roads safer in the near term while bridging the gap to higher levels of autonomy.

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Through L2+, high-definition maps empower vehicles with foresight of the horizon in optimal and sub-optimal conditions. Our maps provide road geometry and road semantics that we use to optimize control decisions, enhance navigation through unmarked or poorly marked roadways and offer a redundant information source on the driving paths ahead. In the past two years, we have secured agreements with leading automakers worldwide – including Volkswagen and Nissan – to make L2+ a reality, extending the benefits of ADAS into a broader range of driving scenarios for drivers around the world.

Because L2+ doesn’t fall squarely into the six SAE Levels of Driving Automation, it has been interpreted differently by the industry over the past two years. For that reason, it is important for us to define the category we introduced.

What is L2+?

When traveling to new or unfamiliar destinations, human drivers often rely on a combination of two sources of information to guide them: their eyes and a GPS navigational map on their smartphone or dashboard. Seeing the shape, direction and details on the path ahead via GPS helps the eyes know what to look for and anticipate, actively sharpening a driver’s grasp of the roads they travel, especially when visibility is low.

When Mobileye introduced L2+ in 2017, we wanted to heighten a vehicle’s understanding of its path in a similar fashion – taking the front camera from its advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) and combining it with our Roadbook™, a crowdsourced high-precision map designed to help autonomous vehicles (AVs) navigate. The L2+ category enhances L1-L2 driver assistance safety features with location intelligence, providing greater convenience to drivers in all driving environments. Through Mobileye’s Road Experience Management™ (REM™) mapping solution, vehicles utilize crowdsourced Roadbook data to augment our sensing, reduce uncertainties, enhance advanced driving maneuvers and enable their use in more complex driving settings.

Consider the lane-keeping assist feature, for example. In L2+ vehicles, map data enables lane-centering to remain effective even in areas without lane marks or low-quality lane marks, such as junctions, roundabouts, newly paved roads or urban settings. The capability is also available day or night, during challenging weather conditions such as fog, low sun, heavy rain, snow or reflecting roads, despite their impact on the front camera’s visibility. With L2+ technology, vehicles can detect lanes nearby, unmarked highway exits, view the range and availability on very sharp curves on the road ahead, and much more.

With L2+ Vehicles, REM provides new features for enhanced ADAS in urban driving, such as which traffic light is relevant to what lane and various unwritten driving laws (e.g., right turn on red, where to stop when entering a junction, and whether this rural road is one-way or bidirectional).

L2+ Through the Lens of Lane-Keeping Assist

The video above compares what a vehicle sees with ADAS and Roadbook technology combined (left) and with ADAS alone (right). Evaluating the lane-keeping assist feature in particular, the clip visually demonstrates the L2+ difference.

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Strength of Visual Perception: Comparing L2+ and L1-2 lane-keeping assist shows the impact Roadbook can have on baseline visual perception. With only ADAS, the vehicle can still see the lanes it must navigate ahead with remarkable confidence.

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Through the mapping data powering L2+, however, the vehicle sees much more detail on the lanes in its view, allowing a greater level of accuracy and capability for the lane-keeping assist feature.

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Visibility through Rain or Shine: Weather conditions can impact how well a vehicle’s front camera can see the road ahead. Using ADAS alone, the vehicle manages to maintain its view of the lane marks immediately ahead of it, although the rain creates some spotty perception of the lanes farther in the distance. This requires the driver to increase alertness and rely less on lane-keeping assist to keep the vehicle centered in its lane.

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The same view through L2+ shows a clear sense of the lanes both immediately in front and farther ahead, with any visibility issues caused by rain seamlessly circumvented via Roadbook-enabled localization. The driver must still remain alert, but the enhanced lane-keeping assist feature provides greater convenience.

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Navigating Obscured Views: What happens when lane marks are completely obscured? With ADAS, the vehicle continues to sense what it can from under the bridge – the lane marks to its right, but not its left – and can maintain lane centering with a reliable level of confidence. The driver must still be prepared to be more engaged and actively control the vehicle through these situations.

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Roadbook data is independent of the front camera’s vision sensing, providing a level of redundancy for the vehicle’s perception of the road ahead. Despite the low visibility under the bridge obscuring lane marks from the vehicle’s view, its understanding of the drivable lanes remains strong through L2+.

 

Extending ADAS Benefits to New Territory

In lane-keeping assist and beyond, L2+ does more than simply enhance ADAS capabilities – it delivers some new capabilities altogether. The semi-autonomous features via ADAS technology, such as hands-off driving, are considered safe under certain driving conditions – namely highways. Bolstered by mapping data from Roadbook, the same features can be deployed in more complicated settings by L2+ vehicles, with a greater level of safety confidence. While drivers of vehicles equipped with L2+ technology must always remain alert so they can affirm actions and take control when necessary, the enhanced features allow the convenience of advanced semi-autonomous driving capabilities to extend to urban areas and more.

What’s Next for L2+

L2+ presents an exciting opportunity for automakers to enhance both the safety and convenience driving. Earlier this year, we began exploring an engagement with Great Wall Motors (GWM), a leading domestic automaker in China, to integrate Mobileye-based ADAS systems ranging from L0-L2+ onto a wide range of vehicle models over the next three to five years. We are also continuing to collaborate with Volkswagen on the development of a broad operational envelope L2+ product addressing mass market deployment.

For Mobileye and Intel, safety is the driving force behind our innovation – with L2+, we hope to bring the world a significant step closer to a ‘vision zero’ future with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic.

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