Japan banks on 3D mapping deemed crucial for driverless cars

In this May 31, 2018, photo, a car monitor shows a 3D digital map as it's driven through Tokyo streets. Technology companies are racing to develop ult

In this May 31, 2018, photo, a car is equipped with sensors to create 3D digital mapping in Tokyo. Technology companies are racing to develop ultra-pr

In this May 31, 2018, photo, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. Senior General Manager Yasuhide Shibata, who oversees the mapping project, stands next to a car

In this May 31, 2018, photo, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. Senior General Manager Yasuhide Shibata, who oversees the mapping project, speaks on some of th

In this May 31, 2018, photo, a car monitor shows a 3D digital map as it's driven through Tokyo streets. Technology companies are racing to develop ult

In this June 11, 2018, photo, Christopher Richter, deputy head of research and auto analyst at CLSA Securities Japan Co., speaks during an interview i

In this June 11, 2018, photo, Mandali Khalesi, global head of automated driving mobility and innovation at Toyota Motor Corp., speaks during an inter

TOKYO (AP) — Technology companies are racing to develop ultra-precise digital maps that can guide self-driving cars within inches of where they should be — a hurdle the industry needs to clear if it hopes to deliver on its promise of widespread use of driverless vehicles.

Japan's government is backing a three-dimensional mapping system developed by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. that includes a wealth of details such as trees and pedestrians. It promises to be off by no more than 25 centimeters (9.8 inches).

That would be a big improvement over satellite-based GPS, which is used by ships, aircraft and increasingly by drivers or on mobile phones but can be off by up to 20 meters (65 feet).