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Alphabet Vets Take On Mapping In New Self-Driving Startup

Self-driving tech startup DeepMap looks to enable next-gen autonomous vehicles with mapping technologies.

Founded by Alphabet Inc. mapping veterans, the startup is constructing systems that help self-driving cars navigate and is looking to license its software to automakers and tech companies. The team at DeepMap also has mapping technology vets from Apple and Baidu.

DeepMap recently raised $25 million in a Series A venture funding round led by Accel, along with participation from seed investors Andreessen Horowitz and GSR Ventures. To date, the mapping technology company has raised a total of $32 million.

“The societal implications of integrating self-driving vehicles into the transportation ecosystem are considerable,” said James Wu, DeepMap co-founder and CEO in the funding press release, “from more independence for the elderly, the young and the handicapped, to saving many lives and making commuting a more meaningful use of time.”

To address the challenge of autonomous navigation, DeepMap’s technologies aim to map road environments on the level of centimeters in real-time to provide highly accurate localization, as well as to share this information with other vehicles on the platform.

It’s a lot of data to handle.

“We need precise mapping and localization technology that is purpose-built from the ground up,” Wu said, “and ensures the highest possible safety, performance and operating efficiency.”

With the latest round of funding, DeepMap plans to continue expanding and optimizing its mapping and localization platform. Additionally, funds will be put toward expanding its mapping and self-driving team.

As cars become personalized digital platforms for content and services (not to mention running and ensuring connectivity across the programs that actually drive the car), big data management will be key to facilitating the experience.

“Having the map lets us define for the robot the rules of the world,” Wu told Bloomberg News. “It’s very easy to make a prototype car that can make a few decisions around a few blocks, but it’s harder when you get out into the world.”

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