Toyota Acquires HD Mapping & Data Company CARMERA in its Push to Be a Leader in Autonomous Driving Tech
Toyota Motor Co subsidiary Woven Planet Holdings, Inc. announced it acquired New York-based spatial AI mapping company CARMERA, Inc.
The Woven Planet teams will tap into CARMERA's core technology that can update HD maps used by autonomous vehicles with crowdsourced data collected from vehicle dash cams installed in CARMERA's fleet partner and customer vehicles. Toyota says that CAMERA's core crowdsourced method to update HD maps is a significantly cheaper and faster approach than traditional methods.
The acquisition of CAMERA is the second major deal for Toyota as its looks to beef up its autonomous driving capabilities. In April, Toyota's Woven Plant acquired Level 5, the self-driving division of Lyft Inc. that was developing the technology for its ride-hailing business.
CARMERA, which was founded in 2017 in Brooklyn, NY, will join Woven Planet as a wholly-owned subsidiary, expanding the company's footprint beyond its Tokyo headquarters by adding CARMERA's New York and Seattle offices to its planned offices in Silicon Valley and London.
More specifically, the CARMERA team will join the Automated Mapping Platform ("AMP'') organization of Woven Alpha, Inc. (Woven Alpha). Woven Alpha focuses on strategic business expansion opportunities and incubates several innovative projects such as Toyota's Woven City, a futuristic prototype city being built on a 175 acre plot of land near the base of Mt Fuji in Japan.
AMP is a connected crowdsourced software platform that supports the creation, development and distribution of high definition ("HD") maps for autonomous vehicles. HD maps include high-level details such as the position of road signs, traffic lights and lane markings. The maps offer centimeter-level accuracy and are used by self-driving vehicles for localization and navigation.
"Woven Planet and AMP have been highly aligned with CARMERA's culture and mission from the beginning. Our teams have a common view of the unmet need for ubiquity in advanced mobility data going forward, including maps," said CARMERA co-founder & CEO Ro Gupta.
CARMERA can identify permanent road changes, including signage changes, traffic signals and lane markings, then make the corresponding updates to both HD and standard maps. This includes temporary road changes, such as lane closures due to construction.
For example, a lane closure for construction requires that a map be updated before an autonomous vehicle can use it to navigate the area. Using technology developed by CARMERA, Woven Planet's AMP will be able to update its HD maps in near real-time to reflect any changes.
"CARMERA's software stack, which is focused on real-time HD map changes and proprietary hardware custom-tailored to crowdsourcing, is an ideal complement to AMP's mapping efforts. In addition, their world-class experts will allow us to bring forward the execution of key strategic milestones and jumpstart operations in the United States," said Mandali Khalesi, Vice President of Automated Driving Strategy & Mapping at Woven Planet.
Toyota said the acquisition of CARMERA will accelerate AMP's shift from the R&D stage to the next phase of commercialization by bolstering the platform's engineering team with top experts in the development of HD maps.
The Woven Alpha team plans to develop AMP into one of the most globally comprehensive road and lane network HD map platforms, enabling high-precision localization support to Toyota's future autonomous vehicles.
An earlier partnership between Woven Planet and CARMERA began in 2019 under its predecessor organization Toyota Research institute - Advanced Development (TRI-AD), which laid the groundwork for this deal.
Woven Planet and CARMERA participated in several collaborative projects in the past as a proof of concept to show that HD Maps can be successfully updated using devices such as commercially available vehicle dash cams.
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