Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH (RBVC), the corporate venture capital company of the Bosch Group, has completed an investment in DeepMap Inc, a US start-up based in Palo Alto, California. DeepMap is a software company focused on solving the mapping and localization challenge for autonomous vehicles. “Maps explicitly designed to be read by machines are a critical enabling technology for safe autonomy. DeepMap fills a vacuum in the market. The company’s approach to mapping, which leverages embedded software on the vehicle, is very compelling and relevant for highly automated as well as autonomous driving, within Bosch and the whole automotive industry,” says RBVC Managing Director Dr. Ingo Ramesohl. “DeepMap builds upon the growing RBVC portfolio of technologies addressing the autonomous vehicle vertical, next to start-ups like AImotive and Tetravue.”
DeepMap is taking a novel approach within the mapping industry and allows different companies to create custom HD maps, which contain different characteristics and data structures. DeepMap also provides software embedded on the vehicle that addresses localization, change detection, data updates, route planning, HD map caching, and data collection. These capabilities allow DeepMap to undertake one of the biggest challenges in the industry, providing “living”, continuously updated HD maps. The company is not providing a static map database, but rather a full software layer in the cloud and embedded on the vehicle. DeepMap is also pursuing a new data ownership model where the end customer owns the underlying data. This strategy enables them to take a more scalable, low-cost approach to HD map making. Instead of owning and operating expensive survey fleets, data can be collected from the customer’s autonomous vehicles deployed in the field.
High Definition Maps for Autonomous Vehicles
High Definition (HD) maps are complete and accurate volumetric reconstructions of a 3D environment and provide a critical set of “pre-information” to autonomous vehicles. They contain layers of semantic information such as lane connectivity, drivable areas, crosswalks, signs, signals, traffic restrictions, and other information that is specific to each end customer’s solution. HD maps have extremely high precision, typically at the centimeter-level. This is because autonomous vehicles need very precise instructions on how to maneuver themselves around in the real world. The key value proposition is that the more precise the HD map is, the simpler the self-driving software can be while obtaining higher performance. “Self-driving car development is both a technology challenge and a product challenge. It needs to be safe, affordable, and scalable. In the self-driving era, a map is no longer ‘just a map’. It’s an integral part of the car’s brain,” said James Wu, CEO and Co-Founder of DeepMap.
World-Class Team and Investors
The company has assembled a 75-person team with extensive experience at launching maps at massive scale. Prior to founding DeepMap, some members of the executive team previously co-founded Apple Maps, led numerous aspects of Google Maps and Google Earth, and led the Baidu HD Mapping initiative. RBVC joins investors Andreessen Horowitz, Accel Partners, and GSR Ventures as backers of DeepMap.