We knew it was only a matter of time until the West Valley City, Utah Ford dealers were selling only autonomous cars. Their lots would be filled with fully functional self-driving vehicles, and a “test drive” would be referred to as a “test ride.” With Ford’s newest investment into a map startup, that day is coming sooner than you think.
One of the biggest challenges facing autonomous cars is the fact that cars don’t see like people do. When there’s an obstacle on the road, the current self-driving vehicles can see what’s in front of them, but not understand why it’s important. For Civil Maps, this challenge presented them with an opportunity to innovate.
Civil Maps is a company that grew out of an accelerator program at Stanford University. With 16 well-qualified employees, Ford knew big things were coming to the streets of Utah and all across the globe. Civil Maps uses artificial intelligence software to get 3-D data from the sensors on self-driving cars. This data is then converted into highly detailed maps.
The benefit of this software is that with it, the cars can identify objects that may be missing or hidden. In doing so, real time maps are available for all autonomous vehicles. The technology that would be used to share real time updates uses crowd souring to eliminate the large amounts of data used over cell phone networks, another perk for dealers who sell them.
What It Means for Ford
In an emailed statement, Ford Spokesperson Alan Hall said, “Investing in and working with Civil Maps gives us an additional way to develop 3-D high-resolution maps, which bring fully autonomous Ford vehicles a step closer for consumers.”
What this means is that Ford dealers are doing whatever they can to get the safest vehicles to their loyal customers and out on Utah roads.