One of the best parts of having autonomous vehicles on the open road is the confidence drivers will enjoy in their safety and the ease of transportation. To get there, it takes companies such as Carmera, which makes real-time, high-definition maps for use in mobility applications.
Recently, Carmera announced it is working with the Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development Inc. on a commercial partnership that will develop camera-based automation of high-definition maps for urban and surface roads. This will make these maps accurate, responsive and safe.
Carmera CEO Ro Gupta described the partnership as “exciting and meaningful” for the mapping startup, which has Michigan offices in Ann Arbor as well as in the PlanetM Landing Zone, a physical entry point for global mobility startups to connect with the traditional automotive industry in Michigan, and a partnership between the Detroit Regional Chamber and Michigan Economic Development Corp.
What makes this new partnership important for Carmera and its development is that TRI-AD is focused on production and scalability, Gupta said.
“We love doing research and testing, but we wanted to work with partners with a commercial rollout and production plan in mind,” Gupta said. “Working with a production-focused group allows us to think on a larger scale. We have to establish how to make this automated driving technology work at Toyota scale, not just a niche basis.
“There will be a lot of work along the way, but we’re excited to keep progressing along that path with them and others that we work with,” Gupta added.
Based in Tokyo, TRI-AD is the carmaker’s division focused on the development of autonomous vehicle technology. Gupta said one of TRI-AD’s goals is to develop an open-software platform concept known as Automated Mapping, combining data gathered from vehicles of participating companies to generate HD maps.
In this project, Carmera and TRI-AD will place cameras in Toyota test vehicles to collect data as the cars drive through downtown Toyoko. Carmera will process the images and other data gathered to automatically generate HD map data. Using Carmera’s extensive experience on professional fleets and in complex urban environments will speed the reliability and process of developing mapping that will making automated driving possible on all roads.
Gupta said Carmera’s Michigan base and its Detroit connections have been essential to finding and securing partnership like these. Carmera first met TRI in Michigan because of its Ann Arbor office. Plus, having Carmera’s Landing Zone location in Detroit has opened doors to meeting a variety of automotive manufacturers and suppliers.
Meeting people in person, demonstrating its technology and receiving brand recognition through the North American International Auto Show’s (NAIAS) Automobili-D exhibition has made Carmera known throughout its industry, Gupta added. Winning the “Best in Show” and “Startup of the Year” awards at the inaugural PlanetM Awards during the 2018 NAIAS was a huge boost to Carmera and getting its name out.
Carmera, which was founded in 2015, also is the resident autonomous vehicle mapping company at both the University of Michigan’s TechLab/Mcity and Michigan State University’s CANVAS Lab.