Ford Motor Co. has chosen to invest in Civil Maps, a 3D maps start-up, in order to push forward the developing of self-driving cars.
Civil Maps managed to gather $6.6 million in investment, as it seems to be a company headed in the right direction when it comes to automotive imaging systems.
Driverless cars must be able to perceive their surroundings, including other vehicles, pedestrians, and streets. Although optic systems are vital for this objective, the ability of cars mapping their path in concordance with other vehicles is also quite important, which is why Ford has invested in Civil Maps.
Investing in 3D mapping for automated vehicles
The company has claimed that, by investing with Civil Maps, they will have a much broader spectrum of possibility when it comes to developing autonomous Ford vehicles. Many are viewing self-driving cars as the next step in automotive consumer products, but the first steps are primarily focused on making the experience safe and trustworthy for the user. Although there are already some vehicles with self-driving abilities, manufacturers advise passengers and potential drivers always to keep eyes on the road.
Modus Ventures led the funding, joining Wicklow Capital, StartX Stanford, and AME Cloud Ventures, a company owned by Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang. It was not disclosed how much out of the $6.6 million were coming from the American car maker. Through a January press release, Ford asserted that it has the largest fleet of autonomous hybrid vehicles in the market.
Civil Maps to become a key player in the driverless car industry
According to Civil Maps CEO Sravan Puttagunta, “Civil Maps’ scalable map generation process enables fully autonomous vehicles to drive like humans do – identifying on-road and off-road features even when they might be missing, deteriorated or hidden from view and letting a car know what it can expect along its route.”
Civil Maps relies on Lidar, a laser imaging system already implemented by Ford. Lidar is unique because it allows the vehicle to dispose of data that has no practical purpose, thus speeding up communications and allowing for greater storage and more efficient mapping.
The rate of processing is critical because driverless cars must be able to communicate with each other, sharing data in real time to avoid collisions and to find the most efficient route towards a destination. Civil Maps has been compared to Google-owned Waze, turning the vehicle into a data processor as it reports crashes, roadblocks, and other events to users in its network. But in the case of Civil Maps, the company strives to record traffic patterns, construction zones, new highways and anything that could orient the car in a real-life driving situation.
Civil Maps is expected to allow cars to recognize street signs, other vehicles, traffic lights and detours. Google has already implemented Lidar on its Street View vehicles, which proves that it will be effective as it is installed on consumer-range vehicles manufactured by Ford. As of now, Civil Maps is also stretching bonds with Asian carmakers to install sensor hardware on their vehicles, but Civil Maps CEO refused to reveal Civil Maps Asian associates.