By Melody Li, Product Management
Recently, we had the opportunity to participate in Autotech Council’s meeting focused on Mapping and Navigation. At Civil Maps, we love these kinds of events, due to the small size and the opportunity to get to know the major players in our space – companies such as Velodyne, Telenav, TomTom, and Valeo. Over 100 people gathered at Western Digital in Milpitas to discuss their work with HD maps and GIS (Geographical Information Systems). Our team exhibited at the event, which focused on mapping/navigation technology needed for autonomous driving and presented for the Rapid Fire Pitch session. Many thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat and/or watch our live demo videos!
Jeff Frick, a host of SiliconANGLE’s live interview show, took notice of what Civil Maps is accomplishing and invited Sravan Puttagunta, our CEO/co-founder, for a 1:1 recorded discussion. In the video below, Sravan shares what we are doing and what makes us different. In particular, he discusses the “Cognition Layer” — where Civil Maps’ embedded software sits in the self-driving technology stack. Leading the discussion, Sravan talks about how our software provides cognition to the vehicle, enabling it to ingest, analyze, and utilize large amounts of various sensor data to understand the world while making decisions with higher confidence.
Jeff also points out that Civil Maps is the only company at the event discussing mapping, navigation, and usability (passenger confidence/riding experience). Sravan further explains that Civil Maps product is innovative in this regard by its use of Augmented Reality technology, whereby a lane-centric, semantic visualization is provided to the car and its passengers, indicating where the car is focusing its attention and what it plans to do. Sravan describes the process as “marrying the map and the sensor data together,” in which the sensors are observing the world in real time and the map retains a reference memory of what’s supposed to be there in reality. When Civil Maps combines these two aspects, the result is our Augmented Reality Maps offering, wherein we project our HD Semantic Map into the (FOV) field of view of the camera and other sensors’ FOV. The car uses the augmented reality layer (which is a graphical overlay rendered on top of a live video/sensor feed) as location and map data for decision-making and safety.
Civil Maps’ technology is used for more than just an autonomous car; passengers benefit from it, too! When passengers give up the driving task, they still need another interface – a “two-way street” upon which the car visually communicates to the passenger, and the passenger can express his/her desires. “Augmented reality is that,” states Sravan Puttagunta. “It communicates to the passengers the car’s understanding of the world, its intentions.” This interface transparency helps develop passenger trust in an autonomous driving system over time, by clearly displaying what a vehicle considers significant within its field of view.
In the Rapid Fire Pitch sessions, Sravan was joined by companies such as RFNav, Helm.ai, and MagicGPS who shared quick, 5-minute presentations introducing their businesses. As a product manager in this space, it was interesting to hear about different approaches and to realize how many great players are dedicated to solving similar challenges in in a variety of ways. The road to autonomy is certainly an exciting one! I look forward to more events like this. Among other conferences, we will be exhibiting and speaking at the Autonomy event in Paris this Fall. Get in touch if you’ll be there and please reach out if you didn’t get a chance to meet/greet with our team at the Autotech event: firstname.lastname@example.org.