A group of former Google Maps employees is presently trying to evolve map-building software through its startup DeepMap. Founded in 2016 by ex-Googlers Mark Wheeler and James Wu, the Palo Alto, California-based startup is currently in the process of developing solutions that would improve the ability of self-driving vehicles to navigate through urban environments. The company is aiming to do so by not only building highly detailed cityscape maps but also by offering its mapmaking software to vehicle manufacturers.
While the platform that DeepMap is currently developing can be used by autonomous cars in real time, it's also aimed at teaching artificial intelligence powering self-driving vehicles to drive before it actually hits public roads. The mapmaking technology infused into DeepMap's vehicles is based on a LiDAR that collects data and combines it with images captured by highly advanced digital cameras. Once processed, that set of data can be used for automatically building highly detailed 3D maps, DeepMap claims. Among other things, the solution is said to be capable of measuring curb height, marking and interpreting street signs, and identifying billboards.
DeepMap's main goal is to develop a robust mapmaking solution and detailed 3D maps and license them to autonomous vehicle manufacturers. While the Palo Alto-based startup already has a number of high-profile and much better-funded competitors like Alphabet, Apple, HERE, and TomTom, the company is hoping that it will be able to grab a sizeable portion of the emerging 3D map market as its offerings aren't tied down to any kind of hardware or other products. While somewhat optimistic, that strategy seemingly resonated with some investors seeing how DeepMap managed to raise $32 million in two funding rounds since being established last year and will likely manage to secure at least one more capital injection in the future. The company is currently aiming to generate up to $10 million in revenue by the end of 2017 and if it succeeds in that endeavor, its valuation could easily skyrocket. While it remains to be seen whether DeepMap manages to develop into a sustainable business in the future, a number of self-driving startups certainly will seeing how this market continues to grow at a rapid pace.