A number of bright orange Tele Atlas-branded vehicles, complete with six cameras on the roof, are in the process of literally putting South Africa on the map.

The fleet of Mobile Mapping Vans from Belgium is part of Tele Atlas's partnership with MapIT to deliver high quality digital map data that is realistic, accurate and reliable to its South African and African clients.
With urbanisation booming in parts of South Africa, the road network is rapidly changing. These Mobile Mapping Vans will begin testing in busy city centres with the use of patented Mobile Mapping technology to track and map changes quickly and accurately.
The Mobile Mapping Vans will provide consumers with technology that will have a direct impact on the quality of services, map data and navigation devices for the near future. They will change the way map data is captured and this will have an effect on the way in which industries use the mapping.
The roof-mounted 360-degree digital cameras and laser sensors enable the Mobile Mapping Vans to quickly and efficiently capture uninterrupted information about roads including lane counts, speed limits, and other data, giving map builders the information it requires to regularly update its maps.
Each camera takes an image every five to eight meters which means it can map more areas in less time.
The vans also collect images of streets, storefronts, road signs, and complex intersections that can be incorporated in maps to help users recognise destinations more easily.
They are also equipped with four roof-mounted video cameras, a GPS unit, and computers that control the equipment and log and store data.
"The images are tagged with their location, position and orientation, showing us exactly where the traffic lights, buildings and other information in these images should be placed on the map. The result is accurate map data that includes all the details you need to navigate," says MapIT MD, Ray Wilkinson.
"The laser scanner on these Mobile Mapping Vans, GPS system and precise distance measuring and positioning equipment can determine the size of bridges, buildings, road widths and clearances as well as determine the location of an object to an accuracy of one meter," he says.