William Eichler 12 April 2017

Oxford council tests innovative street mapping project

Oxford City Council is trialling a new street mapping project as part of a push to develop autonomous vehicles and as a means to transform the way the authority manages its services across the city.

The project, which is being trialled with the University of Oxford’s Robotics Institute (ORI), involves attaching sensors to a council street cleaner in the city centre to create 3D maps.

These can be used to trial the development of autonomous vehicles. But they will also enable the collection of data, such as on road and pavement surface damage and air quality, which can help in the management of the city.

‘Working with the Oxford Robotics Institute we are exploring how the city council’s fleet of street cleaners and refuse collection vehicles can be fitted with sensors, developed by the ORI, to map the city,’ said Sebastian Johnson, vice chair of the Smart Oxford Board and project manager at Oxford City Council.

‘At the same time we are looking to gather information and data that can help us improve the way we run the city as an efficient and effective Council. Our open data platform will also allow innovators to explore and use the data to create new ideas and applications.

‘Oxford is the home to world-leading mobile autonomy and robotics research and development, and the city council and our wider partners on the Smart Oxford Board are keen to support innovation and research to benefit those living in the city.’

Commenting on the trials, professor of information engineering at the University of Oxford and EPSRC Leadership Fellow Paul Newman said: ‘We are really excited to be working in our home city with the city council to map and gather data using one of our NABU sensors on a street sweeper.

‘This trial will help us with our own research for autonomous vehicles and will help the council and other partners gather data that can improve the management and maintenance of the city.’

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