The Detroit-based automaker has participated in a funding round held by a California startup that makes 3D maps for self-driving cars.
Unlike its rivals, Ford has not shown so far too much aggressiveness in making huge investments into Silicon-Valley companies so it can further advance in its autonomous projects. Civil Maps, a provider of 3D mapping technology for fully autonomous vehicles, announced last week it raised a 6.6-million-dollar seed funding round. And Ford was one of the investors, alongside Motus Ventures, Wicklow Capital, StartX Stanford and Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures.
Civil Maps’ artificial intelligence software makes sense of raw data from LiDAR and Camera sensors onboard autonomous vehicles and packages the information into a map format that is a fraction of the size of existing technologies, according to the company. It also claims that thanks to this light data footprint, its format is far less costly to transmit over cellular networks, enabling to crowdsource more easily, update and share road data in real time as opposed to lengthy processes of the past.
“Autonomous vehicles require a totally new kind of map,” Sravan Puttagunta, Chief Executive Officer, Civil Maps, said. “Civil Maps’ pioneering mapping technology is building the backbone of our fully autonomous future,” Jim DiSanto from Motus Ventures, added.
Other carmakers have been more willing to heavily spend on software and tech companies to speed up the development pace. As an example, GM put 1 billion dollars in driverless-focused maker Cruise Automation, while Fiat Chrysler teamed up with Google.