Yesterday, after the opening of BMW’s first campus dedicated exclusively to autonomous driving, the Bavarian brand declared itself a technology company, leaving the automotive realm behind. Keeping up with this commitment will take strategic investments in key areas and that’s exactly what BMW i Ventures has been doing for the last couple of years. The latest such investment was signed this week and sees the company investing in Mapillary, the leading street-level imagery platform for extracting map data using computer vision.
Mapillary maintains the world’s largest street-level imagery dataset at 260 million images, shared and used by individuals, companies, cities, governments, and NGOs across the globe. Anyone can contribute images captured with any camera. The platform uses computer vision to connect the images and automatically extract map data, making this sensor-agnostic approach a scalable way to generate the data that powers and updates HD maps.
“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,” says Uwe Higgen, Managing Partner of BMW i Ventures. “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.”
“With everything that’s happening around autonomous driving, we know the need for a collaborative, device-agnostic, and map-agnostic platform will be steadily growing,” says Jan Erik Solem, CEO and co-founder of Mapillary. “While the application of Mapillary for automotive use might be new, the underlying idea is the same since our first day: sharing data so that everyone wins. Our new investors will help us navigate this rapidly changing automotive market, and bring expertise in distributing map data that will help us realize Mapillary’s global potential.”
The scale of Mapillary’s operations has grown to serve over 22 billion map objects in 190 countries to an increasing number of organizations and customers in mapping, cities, and automotive. The new capital will be used to continue growing the team, the core technology, and the infrastructure.