Mapping and street-level imagery company Mapillary recently launched the Mapillary Dashcam, based on the BlackVue DR900S architecture. The primary goal is to provide shipping and delivery fleets companies a reliable tool to keep their maps updated. The dashcam is the result of a collaboration between Pittasoft, the company behind BlackVue, and Mapillary. It uses the BlackVue DR900S 4K dashcam and a firmware highly customized by Mapillary to fit their specific needs. Note that this is different from BlackVue’s Cloud API and Fleet SDK. However, it illustrates BlackVue’s commitment to breaking technological frontiers and collaborating with innovators in the fields of mapping, AI and digital imagery.
Keeping maps updated: a key concern in the delivery industries
One of the main concerns for companies that operate large fleets of vehicles is keeping maps up to date. With ever-increasing pressure to deliver faster and more efficiently, mapping and navigation systems play a crucial role in those companies’ profitability. Wherever their vehicles routinely go, they must be able to rely on their maps to provide the best routes at all times.
A challenge even for the biggest players
Maintaining map accuracy is a challenge even for the biggest players in the field. Even for a company like Google, it’s a huge undertaking to keep their maps updated. Even with monthly updates, some areas are not updated more than once every couple years (source). Now, think about how much things could change on the road within that time. You could find yourself in an area where maps don’t match reality anymore. If you are a busy delivery driver, that could mean a lot of stress and difficulty to meet deadlines. If you are a fleet manager, that could mean extra costs and lower predictability.
Mapillary’s strategy: harnessing the power of the crowd
Mapillary both uses and contributes to OpenStreetMaps, the open source mapping platform. Anyone with a smartphone can use the Mapillary app to update the street-level imagery hosted by Mapillary. The company also developed computer vision algorithms to detect things such as traffic lights and signs. These algorithms process and tag automatically all the content uploaded by their users. In turn, the processed data in used to enrich and update the existing maps.
The Mapillary Dashcam: a godsend for delivery businesses
With the Mapillary Dashcam, fleet users using Mapillary’s solutions can keep their maps updated almost in real time. For the drivers themselves, the process is seamless. No operation is needed on the part of the drivers, as the dashcam just turns on and starts capturing automatically when powered. The dashcams can be configured to record 1 to 30 frames per second. An eight-hour driving session would typically yield 150,000 images (about 5 images per second). Once uploaded to Mapillary’s servers, that data is automatically processed to update the maps within a matter of hours. This creates a virtuous circle of map updates which in turn benefit the contributors themselves, as well as the community at large.