Ford invests in 3-D mapping company Civil Maps

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. is among five investors who contributed $6.6 million to Civil Maps, a California startup that makes 3-D maps that let autonomous cars “see” the road ahead.

The company aggregates data from cameras, radar and LiDAR sensors and combines them into readable maps. Civil Maps uses less data than other companies, which lets them easily upload the maps to the cloud to share and update with vehicles over cellular networks.

“Autonomous vehicles require a totally new kind of map,” said Sravan Puttagunta, the Civil Maps CEO. “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.”

The latest funding round was led by Motus Ventures, along with Ford, Wicklow Capital, StartX Stanford and Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures. Civil Maps said it will use the seed investment to “accelerate product development and deployment with a number of leading automotive companies and technology partners.”

Ford or Civil Maps did not say how much of the $6.6 million Ford invested.

“Ford already is leading in autonomous vehicles with the largest test fleet of any automaker on the road this year, building on our decade of autonomous vehicle development work,” Ford said in a statement. “Investing in and working with Civil Maps gives us an additional way to develop 3-D high-resolution maps, which will bring fully autonomous Ford vehicles a step closer to reality for consumers.”

The investment in Civil Maps comes about two months after the Dearborn automaker announced a $182.2 million investment in Palo Alto-based software company Pivotal.

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