Ford (NYSE:F) has invested in Civil Maps, a California startup engaged in generating three dimensional maps that help in guiding self-driving cars. It is one of the five investors in the company. The total investment comes to $6.6 million. The other four investors are Motus Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Wicklow Capital and StartX Stanford.
Cicil Maps, founded in 2014, utilizes artificial intelligence. It converts data extracted from car sensors to map the same information for further use inside autonomous vehicles. Prior to the Ford investment, the company has earlier raised approximately nearly $3 million. The latest influx of money will be utilized for product development and also for technology deployment. At present the company has 16 employees and headquartered in Albany, California.
Sravan Pattagunta, the CEO of Civil Maps, said that autonomous vehicles need a new version of map for them to function. The scalable map generation being developed by his company enables the completely autonomous vehicles to behave similar to humans. They can identify both on road and also off road features which could be hidden from view, missing or even deteriorated. The technology will inform the vehicle about what it can encounter along the route.
Ford's latest investment is a continuation of a well thought out process. It founded Smart Mobility, a corporation of limited liability, in March 2016. The aim of this action was to develop mobility services. Jim Hackett, the former CEO of Steelcase, runs Smart Mobility.
The $6.6 million is invested by Ford and four other partners so that Civil Mps can develop the technology to guide self-driving vehicles. Alan Hall, the Ford spokesperson said that investing and working with the Civil Maps company provides the Ford company an extra opportunity to create 3D maps of high resolution. This technology will bring the fully autonomous Ford cars a step nearer to the actual use for the consumers.
For Ford, this is not the first time that the company has invested in autonomous vehicle technology. The company, in May, invested a whopping $182,2 million and picked up about 6.6 percent equity stake in a cloud computing company. This company, Pivotal Software, assisted Ford to develop its own mobility app.
General Motors, another big player in the global automarket has also not fallen behind. It recently purchased Cruise Automation, the autonomous vehicle startup, for about $1 billion. Another of Ford's competitors, BMW, has inked a partnership with Mobileye and Intel to manufacture completely autonomous cars within 2021.