Australia: Armed with five high-tech cameras on their roof and a huge hard-drive named Gypsy in the boot, the Whereis Nissan Patrol is the newest vehicle in a fleet of eight, and has the job of providing the most accurate mapping data of Australia’s 1.1 million kilometres of roads.
Whereis is the digital maps and content provider for Australia and New Zealand. Its group manager Peter Barclay explained that the vehicle, with three Hawk-Eye cameras facing forward and two facing back, can survey the landscape with sub-metre accuracy, including road curvature, slopes and lane markings.
The vehicles hit the road four times a year, each covering 240,000km. Drivers are allocated their travel schedule months in advance, which covers new road construction and missing locations, put together by the Whereis research team. The route is based on updates from councils, construction groups and consumers who have made direct requests on the Whereis website.
At the production end, GIS technicians scour the video footage, running scripts to apply all the key ingredients to the digital maps, which are updated every six weeks online and annually for the GPS sat-nav makers.