Ford’s autonomous vehicle work opens wallet for Civil Maps

Ford recently announced it invested alongside others in a $6.6 million round for California startup Civil Maps, a firm that is using AI-driven smart mapping software for self-driving cars.

Ford executives know that self-driving cars are going to happen — they have over 100 experts trying to perfect the self-driving car — and they want in on this lucrative venture.

The round was led by Motus Ventures and, aside from Ford, investors include Wicklow Capital, StartX Stanford and Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures.

“Autonomous vehicles require a totally new kind of map,” said Sravan Puttagunta, Chief Executive Officer, Civil Maps. “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. We are honored to work with Ford and the rest of our investor team to pave the way for fully autonomous vehicles at continental scale.”

Ford has been road testing its technology, with technicians looking at the sensors and other aspects of autonomous vehicles.  By teaming up with Civil Maps, Ford can take the next step into designing a reliable self-driving vehicle.

Civil Maps building a mapping backbone

“Civil Maps’ pioneering mapping technology is building the backbone of our fully autonomous future,” said Jim DiSanto, managing director of Motus Ventures.

“By creating and managing live semantic maps of all the roads in America, the company is providing a technology essential for the leap to fully autonomous vehicles that can transform the future of transportation.”

Civil Maps has created the software that will allow for raw 3D data to be processed from LiDAR, which is a high-resolution laser imaging device. Sensors and cameras will be incorporated in these autonomous vehicles as well.

By creating special maps, Civil Maps makes it possible for self-driving vehicles to be their own drivers.  Features on and off the highway can be detected, making a trip easy

With the aid of this technology, the possibility of accidents in greatly diminished, to a near zero chance, reducing stress on drivers.  This makes perfecting autonomous vehicles one of the biggest goals of big companies like Ford.