Facebook has acquired Swedish mapping start-up, Mapillary, in another effort towards taking on tech giants, Apple and Google, at mapping the world at ground level. While the acquisition price was not disclosed, start-up tracker, Crunchbase revealed that the acquired company had successfully raised $24.5 million from investors within the last seven years.
Founded in Malmo, Sweden, in 2013, the company built a street-level imagery platform using photos uploaded by members of the public. The company then uses computer vision software to determine what exactly is in an image, like traffic signs, allowing map builders to incorporate this data in their own maps.
For Facebook, the company’s street-level data could further strengthen the accuracy of the maps it offers on its platforms.
Mapillary’s co-founder and CEO, Jan Erik Solem, explained that “From day one of Mapillary, we have been committed to building a global street-level imagery platform that allows everyone to get the imagery and data they need to make better maps. With tens of thousands of contributors to our platform and with maps being improved with Mapillary data every single day, we’re now taking the next big step on that journey.”
Apple and Google have invested heavily in street-level mapping over the last 10 years, but Facebook so far, has not built a name in mapping. Facebook had also earlier noted its use of a combination of machine learning, satellite imagery and partnerships with mapping communities to improve its maps.
Mapillary’s platform, which could not be used for commercial purposes previously, now has the option, making it even more relevant for users.
“Today, we’re excited to share that Mapillary has joined Facebook to be part of their open mapping efforts. Starting today, it will also be free to use for commercial users as well. While we previously needed to focus on commercialization to build and run the platform, joining Facebook moves Mapillary closer to the vision we’ve had from day one of offering a free service to anyone,” Solem added.