Toyota’s Woven Planet Unit Acquires CARMERA for Autonomous Vehicle Mapping

High-definition mapping experts join Automated Mapping Platform group shortly after Woven Planet's Level 5 purchase from Lyft.

Toyota

CARMERA HD mapping proof of concept in Detroit.

Woven Planet Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corp., yesterday said it is acquiring CARMERA Inc., which specializes in spatial artificial intelligence for automated mobility. CARMERA will join Woven Planet Group as a wholly-owned subsidiary, expanding the company’s footprint beyond its Tokyo headquarters by adding New York and Seattle offices to its planned offices in Silicon Valley and London. Terms were not disclosed.

The predecessor to Woven Planet—Toyota Research institute - Advanced Development Inc. (TRI-AD)—previously collaborated with CARMERA on projects from 2018 to 2020. They demonstrated that the companies could successfully develop and update high-definition (HD) maps from commodity, device-agnostic sources, such as commercially available dashboard-mounted cameras, said Woven Planet.

TRI-AD was founded in 2019, and Woven Planet Holdings, Woven Core, Woven Alpha, and Woven Capital comprise Woven Planet Group. The Toyota companies design, build, and deliver mobility systems to realize the vision of “Mobility to Love, Safety to Live,” and they invest in autonomous vehicles, robotics, smart cities, and other innovations.

CARMERA is Woven Planet's second major deal in North America. In April, Woven Planet announced its acquisition of Level 5, the self-driving division of Lyft Inc., for $550 million.

CARMERA enables faster map updates

CARMERA said it builds on vehicular crowdsourcing and remote sensing to capture street-level change at global breadth and HD depth. The company, which has offices in New York and Seattle, uses an open systems approach to working with leading automotive companies, commercial mobility operators, and mapping platforms.

CARMERA said its employees come from leading geospatial, machine learning, and computer vision organizations, and it had venture backing from GV (Google Ventures), among others.

Woven Planet and CARMERA said they will tap into CARMERA’s ability to successfully update HD maps from crowdsourced, camera-based inputs, which they claimed is significantly cheaper and faster than traditional methods. This will strengthen the ability of the Automated Mapping Platform (AMP) team at Woven Alpha to serve a comprehensive set of road classes and features, reflecting changes in lane markings, traffic signals, signs, and more in close to real time.

“Woven Planet and AMP have been highly aligned with CARMERA’s culture and mission from the beginning,” stated Ro Gupta, co-founder and of CARMERA. “Our teams have a common view of the unmet need for ubiquity in advanced mobility data going forward, including maps.”

“Woven Planet, thanks to its software-first automotive DNA, shares our commitment to the end user, to creating a technology stack that can be used safely and without friction by all stakeholders from data originators through to data consumers,” he added. “This validates and furthers our founding thesis that richer, faster spatial intelligence is both critical to the next generation of ‘Mobility for All’ and viable at global-production scale.”

CARMERA to join Automated Mapping Platform group

Once the deal is closed, the CARMERA team will report into the AMP organization of Woven Alpha Inc. Woven Alpha focuses on exploring new strategic areas for business expansion and incubates projects such as Woven City and the Arene open software platform.

AMP is a connected crowdsourced software platform that supports the creation, development, and distribution of HD maps—“a key enabler for smart and safe automated mobility,” said Woven Planet. It added that Woven Alpha plans “to develop AMP to become the most globally comprehensive road and lane network HD map platform, enabling high-precision localization support to automated vehicles.”

The AMP team said the CARMERA acquisition will accelerate its shift from research and development to the next phase of commercialization by bolstering the platform’s engineering team with HD mapping experts. In addition, it will provide access to CARMERA’s map update, change management, and Internet of Things (IoT) sensing technology.

“We’ve been progressing steadily in bringing safe automated mobility to the passenger and commercial vehicle segments, such as our recent announcements with Isuzu Motors Ltd. and Hino Motors Ltd., and with Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp.,” said Mandali Khalesi, vice president of automated driving strategy and mapping at Woven Planet. “With CARMERA joining the team, we’ll be able to hit the accelerator. 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 U.S.,” he said.


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Toyota

CARMERA HD mapping proof of concept in Detroit.


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