HomeAutonomous VehiclesSacramento taps Silicon Valley AI duo to build HD smart-city maps for GM, Tesla, et al

Sacramento taps Silicon Valley AI duo to build HD smart-city maps for GM, Tesla, et al

The City of Sacramento has agreed with two Silicon Valley artificial intelligence (AI) firms to develop high-definition 2D and 3D maps of local road infrastructure to share with car makers in order to make autonomous driving in the city safer.

Sacramento, California’s state capital, will use Deepen AI’s 2D and 3D annotation technology, and Foresight AI’s dynamic HD map building solution. Mapping data from both companies, initially of three routes in the city, will be meshed together as a set of detailed, annotated maps.

These will be provided to the likes of General Motors and Tesla, the city said. They will also help advance the efforts of local technology and robotics companies, and “speed the safe and reliable deployment” of autonomous driving and intelligent transport systems within the city.

The three-month project, managed by the city’s office of innovation and economic development, starts next month, focusing initially on three demo routes: the city’s 1.7-mile ‘downtown loop’, its 1-2-mile autonomous shuttle route, and its 3.5-mile Franklin-24th street loop.

Darrell Steinberg, the city’s mayor, commented: “Sacramento is committed to bringing our residents more shared, clean ways to get around. This partnership builds on our momentum toward becoming a centre of innovation in new transportation technologies.”

Autonomous vehicles rely on detailed reference maps and an array of sensors to detect live elements, including road users and weather conditions, to navigate a safe course.

Louis Stewart, chief information officer for the city of Sacramento, commented: “We are attracting the attention of urban technology startups because of our willingness to develop alongside them. This partnership allows us to continue shaping Sacramento into an autonomous-ready city.”

Deepen AI will combine both artificial and human intelligence, according to the press announcement, to identify and label physical elements on the Sacramento test routes. It will also annotate ground data from Foresight AI’s drones.

Mohammad Musa, chief executive at Deepen AI, said: “This project… will help bring the benefits of safe and reliable autonomous vehicles to all of us quicker.”

Chang Yuan, founder and chief at Foresight AI, talked up the company’s “advanced” and “unique” drone-mapping and data collection services. Its drones carry warious data capture engines, including lidar, cameras, GPS, and inertial measurement units.

The company will generate coloured 3D maps of the three routes, as well as an open-access web portal to make the data available more widely for visualisation.

The city of Sacramento has partnered more on smart city developed with Verizon, which has modelled its broader city strategy on its work in the California capital.

Sacramento was identified as the US carrier’s first ‘5G city’, way back in 2017, alongside the likes of Houston, Indianapolis, and Los Angeles. Rollout of fixed-wireless access (FWA) services in the millimetre wave (mmWave) band is now under way.

Verizon’s partners in Sacramento include Ericsson, Cisco, Samsung, Intel, LG, Nokia, and Qualcomm. Its workload in the city has been rolled into a single PPP / P3 arrangement. The synergies of the PPP arrangement, wedded to its rollout of 5G technology, have informed its other 5G-oriented work in the smart cities space

“We stepped back, and said ‘If we can deploy in a quicker way, at better sites, in a more affordable manner – if the city can help with those things – then we can do more for the city around inclusion, traffic, safety. It is a trade. That’s the way the maths works,” Lani Ingram, the company’s vice president for smart communities, told Enterprise IoT Insights back in October.

For more on the Sacramento story, as well as a broader look at the state of the smart-cities market in the US, and globally, check out our report and webinar, How to buy / sell a smart city – procurement models to make every city smart. Register for the webinar here to hear from speakers from AT&T, Cisco, the City of Cardiff, Cradlepoint and Navigant.

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