Latest Automated Car Can Navigate Unmapped Roads

Mon 14th May 2018

Graduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have taken automated car driving technology one step further by designing a car that can drive unaided on unmapped roads.

The technology is a breakthrough in the latest development of self-driving cars as it means that cars of the future could theoretically drive on roads that have had no prior scanning by a monitoring car.

Current driverless cars navigate the roads using a 3D map which has usually been created from a number of prior scans of the road, the surroundings and obstacles within the local environment. This time intensive process of labelling every characteristic and quirk of the roads means that driverless vehicles are currently restricted to their journeys.

But the team from MIT has solved the problem by building a system that relies solely on GPS and sensors to allow the car to identify its surroundings in real time and monitor the road conditions as it drives.

The technology has been developed in the United States, which currently has huge amounts of unmapped roads, but it is hoped the new tech will allows autonomous vehicles to be tested in other parts of the globe which also have not been monitored.

MIT’s system is called MapLite and may offer a new way of thinking about driverless car technology.

“The reason this kind of ‘mapless’ approach hasn’t really been done before is because it is generally much harder to reach the same accuracy and reliability as with detailed maps,” said Teddy Ort, lead author of the research paper on the technology and an MIT graduate student.

“A system like this that can navigate just with onboard sensors shows the potential of self-driving cars being able to actually handle roads beyond the small number that tech companies have mapped.”

Driverless technology is moving apace in the US, with tech and automotive firms such as Google, Uber and BMW all testing the technology for future use. does not have a driverless car but we can still deliver your choice of vehicle to your door at the click of a mouse.