Ford invests in 3D mapping startup to push forward self-driving car development

Ford invests in 3D mapping startup to push forward self-driving car development

California-based 3D mapping startup Civil Maps has received $6.6 million in seed money from a group of investors that includes bigwig automaker Ford Motor Co. The seed round secured by Civil Maps was led by Motus Ventures; with some other participants in the round including Wicklow Capital, StartX Stanford, and Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures.

Since Civil Maps is working on artificial intelligence (AI)-powered mapping software for self-driving cars, Ford’s investment in the startup underscores an apparent effort by the automaker to explore for new ways to advance with the development of self-driving cars.

The software developed by Civil Maps has the capability to process -- with the help of AI -- raw 3D data from high-resolution laser imaging (LiDAR), cameras, as well as other sensors installed in self-driving vehicles, into a machine-readable format.

As such, the Civil Maps technology chiefly addresses a significant mapping issue related to self-driving cars --- that is, the conversion of the massive amounts of data coming in from the self-driving car’s sensors into helpful and readable maps.

About the technology developed by Civil Maps, the startup’s CEO Sravan Puttagunta said: “Civil Maps’s 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.”