When you think of developing maps for automated vehicles, you might think along the lines of something that you see on your phone, on a screen centered in your IP or something from Garmin.
But high-definition maps for autonomous vehicles aren’t exactly like that because rather than telling or describing to you where the vehicle needs to go, the software is providing inputs to processors that are also receiving information from sensors to help assure that the driverless vehicle is going where it needs to go. (It could be that there is a human-readable version involved, but that’s more for show than go.)
One company that’s involved in developing HD maps is DeepMap, a firm that was established in 2016, went public in 2017, and has since formed partnerships with companies including Honda, through its Xcelerator program, and with Ford, as the companies are working toward creating maps of Bay Area areas, in part because it is convenient to DeepMap, which is headquartered in Palo Alto, and because Ford has its Silicon Valley Research and Innovation Center also in Palo Alto.
DeepMap is working to create maps with centimeter precision that can reflect changes in the road in real time. What’s more, these maps must be seamlessly integrated with other parts of the self-driving system within a vehicle. Another key element is developing a software infrastructure that’s capable of handling massive amounts of high-definition data and that can facilitate communication between cars and the cloud in a cost-effective manner.
Presumably one of those would be demanding, but clearly they’re going all in.
As James Wu, CEO and co-founder of DeepMap, put it, “Self-driving car development is both a technology challenge and a product challenge. It needs to be safe, affordable, and scalable. In the self-driving era, a map is no longer 'just a map'. It’s an integral part of the car’s brain.”
DeepMap has investors including Andreessen Horowitz and GSR Ventures.
Today it got another one: Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH (RBVC), the Bosch Group’s venture arm.
Why? According to RBVC managing director, Dr. Ingo Ramesohl, “Maps explicitly designed to be read by machines are a critical enabling technology for safe autonomy. DeepMap fills a vacuum in the market. The company’s approach to mapping, which leverages embedded software on the vehicle, is very compelling and relevant for highly automated as well as autonomous driving, within Bosch and the whole automotive industry.”
Compelling. Relevant. And undoubtedly essential.
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