Mapping for retail? Yes, it’s a thing. Explorer.ai is now part of Standard Cognition!

This morning, autonomous checkout startup Standard Cognition announced that it has acquired Explorer.ai, and we couldn’t be more excited.

You may be wondering how a mapping technology company ended up in retail. I’ll admit, when Standard initially approached us, we weren’t sure either.

Our Open Basemap featuring a solution for localization, perception, & planning.

Originally, Explorer.ai set out to conquer mapping for the autonomous vehicle world. We had a lot of success and made some important technological breakthroughs particularly with our Open Basemap which is our own approach to 3D maps for localization, perception, and planning algorithms for cities worldwide. But we found that overall, the autonomous vehicle world was moving slowly — much more slowly than we were — given the safety requirement of such a system. We realized that we would need to either raise a lot more money or join forces with another company in order to succeed in this environment.

We fielded offers from some of the usual suspects in the autonomous vehicle space, and we seriously considered them. But then Standard approached us, interested in leveraging our experience for the retail world. We learned quickly that the commercialization of retail checkout as a computer vision use case was moving much more quickly than the autonomous vehicle space. We’re excited to build on our camera and LIDAR-based mapping expertise from the AV world and confident that if we can build a map of San Francisco, then we can build a map of any retail store in the world.

Standard’s autonomous checkout solution utilizes cameras on the store ceilings to determine where people are, what’s in the store, and who has what items. Store mapping is essential to facilitate this technology. Explorer.AI’s technology will help to accelerate Standard’s store-mapping capabilities, compressing a process that used to take hours to just minutes. That means Standard can easily remap stores as needed, giving retailers additional flexibility in their store layouts to accommodate sales and promotions.

Our mapping technology used to localize and track people in a retail store.

As it turns out, Explorer.ai’s technology is a perfect fit for autonomous checkout, a space that’s moving along at a rapid clip. We can have a big impact on Standard’s success, almost immediately. That’s what got us excited.

So in the end, we thanked the usual suspects for their interest but decided to join Standard. Our core team remains intact, forming the basis of Standard’s new mapping team. As of today, we’re ensconced in Standard’s Mission Street headquarters, already working closely with Standard’s retailer customers around the world.

We’re grateful to everyone who supported Explorer.ai in its journey so far, and so very excited about this new adventure. Thanks!

Akshay, Tushar, and Nagasrikanth