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Mapillary raises $15 million to boost its digital mapping for self-driving vehicles

An image from Mapillary Vistas Dataset, a pixel-accurate annotated street-level imagery dataset for  autonomous mobility and transport.

An image from Mapillary Vistas Dataset, a pixel-accurate annotated street-level imagery dataset for autonomous mobility and transport.

Image Credit: Mapillary

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Sweden-based Mapillary announced today that it has raised a new round of financing to accelerate its development of an independent mapping data system for autonomous vehicles.

Mapillary creates a database of street-level images and then uses its computer vision technology to analyze the data contained in those images. That’s a massive undertaking, but Mapillary is already seeing its data used by partners such as the Volkswagen Group and mapping service HERE.

The $15 million round was led by BMW i Ventures and includes money from the Samsung Catalyst Fund and NavInfo, as well as money from previous backers Atomico and Sequoia Capital.

“There is a growing need for an independent provider of street-level imagery and map data, which also acts as a sharing platform among different players,” said Uwe Higgen, managing partner of BMW i Ventures, in a statement. “Data sharing is crucial to maintaining accurate maps and to the development of safe autonomous vehicles. Mapillary has made great progress and built technology that will let everyone update maps in a scalable way.”

The company is based in Malmö, Sweden and also has an R&D facility in Graz, Austria. Mapillary is a collaborative platform that crowdsources its imagery from users who download its app and take street-level pictures with their smartphones. Those are then shared into Mapillary’s system, where the computer vision technology breaks them down into objects and data.

This data is increasingly critical to companies that are developing self-driving vehicles.

The new investor group adds considerable experience and insight into delivering map data and integrating it into HD and regular maps, which Mapillary cofounder and CEO Jan Erik Solem says will help the company ramp up its automotive-specific integrations:

“The world is still just scratching the surface of autonomous driving, and we know that the demand for a collaborative platform that works across different systems and maps will be steadily growing as autonomous cars hit the streets in increasing numbers,” said Solem in a statement. “That’s the platform we’ve been building since we started out in 2013, and our new investors’ expertise in both the automotive industry and map data distribution will help us realise Mapillary’s global potential in the coming years.”

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