FORD Invests in Startup That Makes Maps for Self-Driving Cars

Ford Motor Co. is among five investors providing $6.6 million in seed funding for Civil Maps, a California startup that creates three-dimensional maps for autonomous cars.

The other participants are Motus Ventures, Wicklow Capital, StartX Stanford and AME Cloud Ventures, a fund led by Yahoo! Inc. co-founder Jerry Yang, Civil Maps said in a statement. The company, which has 16 full-time employees, is based in Albany, California, and grew out of an accelerator program sponsored by Stanford University.

The startup uses artificial-intelligence software to aggregate raw 3-D data from sensors on self-driving cars to create highly detailed maps used to direct autonomous vehicles. Civil Maps said its format uses less data, reducing the cost of transmission over cellular networks. That lets the technology provide more real-time road data gathered through crowd-sourcing traffic information from other cars.

Ford has been making modest bets on technology partners as it researches self-driving cars and the sharing economy. In May, the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker invested $182.2 million to take a stake of about 6.6 percent in Pivotal Software Inc., a cloud-computing company that helped it develop a mobility app.

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