So Long, Dev House! Civil Maps is On the Move…

by Alex Figueroa, Engineering

Albany, CA

It has been a fun, fast 400+ days, but we will be leaving “the House” — aka Civil Maps HQ, soon. While we were working out the details of our next office move, we came across some test footage and thought to share it with you in this video. You’ll get a glimpse of some our technology and gain some context about where we’ve been.

In many cases, that means hundreds of hours spent testing inside and outside of our development cars, nights and days. All kinds of weather, too. The irony is that I actually get car sick pretty easily. After joining the company last year, I’ve had to train my eyes and body to debug on a laptop while in motion.

In the video, you’ll see one of our cars back out of the two-story, four bedroom house, which has been our home base since November 2015. The car heads west along Sonoma Avenue, which has provided plentiful parking for our growing team, many who come from all over the Silicon Valley. Once on Marin Ave, a main thoroughfare in the small town of Albany, CA, you can see how the car is using our Augmented Reality (AR) Map, where we project sensor information directly in the field of view of the car’s camera. Powered by a combination of our 3D semantic map and localization (via 6 dimensions) technology, the AR Map allows a self-driving car to focus its attention. Instead of looking at the entire scene in front of the vehicle as it drives, an autonomous car using our AR Map is given the ability to hone in on the information it needs to move about safely.

The Augmented Reality Map lets the car know where it is and where it should center its attention (instead of scanning the whole scene). This takes the cognitive load off the car, enabling the vehicle to devote those compute resources to other tasks. It also means, instead of driving around with a trunk full of GPUs and supercomputers in its trunk, a self-driving car with our technology only needs an ARM processor to accomplish similar objectives. These AR Maps were developed for people to use too, and while you’re sitting in a self-driving car that is using one of our AR Maps, you can be reassured of the car’s location and its intentions by looking at the visualization.

I’ve also spent a lot of time driving along Marin Ave, which really is quite nice. It is lush with trees and those trees provide ever changing foliage. The leaves have produced some interesting challenges for our fingerprinting technology, which enables us to develop and crowdsource maps over cellular internet. It has been refreshing actually, to come into the neighborhood to work, as the streets are quiet and beautiful. The neighbors and locals have always been friendly, though we do frequently get strange looks or questions about “What’s that on top of your car?” We’re happy to explain.

We’ll spend a few more weeks here at the house and then we’ll be moving on. Stay tuned for our next location! We’ll miss this place, but with a few new people joining the company every month, it is getting cramped.

P.S. We’re hiring at https://www.civilmaps.com/jobs. Don’t see your role there yet? email: jobs@civilmaps.com