These 3D street maps are accurate enough to detect individual potholes

And HERE is making them widely available for self-driving cars

One of the biggest bottlenecks on the road to the widespread adoption of self-driving cars is the quality of mapping data that's currently available.

HERE, a Nokia company, hopes to speed up the process by making its high-definition mapping data available for car companies to use in their self-driving car research.

Currently public road sections from four different countries including the US, France and Germany are available, with the roads of Silicon Valley included amongst the data.

HERE's HD map data is accurate within ten to 20 centimetres, and is gathered using LiDAR technology which illuminates targets with a laser before analysing the reflected light to record the distance and position.

In this manner, billions of 3D points can be recorded, capturing not only the precise width and lane layouts of a road, but also the slopes, hills and potholes too, in addition to roadside objects like signposts.