IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Self-Driving Cars Gain 'Sight' With Civil Maps

Civil Maps is just one of many startups that have forged alliances with big automakers in the field of self-driving cars.

(TNS) -- If self-driving cars are really the future of transportation, they need to mimic humans’ basic mental skills: knowing to stop at a stop sign, or turn left in a left-only lane.

“We need to create a car that has the (same) cognitive ability as the most expert human driver,” said Sravan Puttagunta, CEO of Civil Maps, an artificial intelligence startup.

Puttagunta wants to build the brains behind self-driving cars. The idea is to make autonomous vehicles as comfortable as humans in a familiar neighborhood. To do this, the technology constantly scans and catalogs streets and highways, and instantly updates its cloud memory bank with that information.

Civil Maps garnered extra attention this week because of a video circulating online that shows exactly how its technology “sees” the road. Puttagunta said the company is also talking with dozens of automakers, but declined to specify which ones. He said his company has partners in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

The San Francisco company currently has $11 million in funding. Ford participated in a $6.6 million round last year, along with Motus Ventures, which led the deal, and Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures.

The Detroit automaker, which recently replaced its CEO with the leader of its advanced-technology group, has said it wants to put autonomous vehicles that can be hailed with an app on the road by 2021.

Civil Maps is just one of many startups that have forged alliances with big automakers in the field of self-driving cars. Even though self-driving cars are still a ways off, there are dozens of companies in the Bay Area alone looking to capitalize on a future where cars drive themselves.

“We want to be the company that brings clarity to the space,” he said.

Also trending:


What it does: An online deposit box where users can store sensitive information, such as passwords, medical records and finances.

What happened: The company recently acquired personal data storage app Mustbin. LifeSite CEO Chris Wong said Mustbin has tens of thousands of users who will now transfer into LifeSite’s database. The company also plans to make use of Amazon’s Alexa voice-activated service.

Why it matters: As hackers become more sophisticated, it’s important to have a secure way to store personal information.

Headquarters: Mountain View
Funding: $5 million
Employees: 20

Domino Data Lab

What it does: Gives companies a template to use their own data and create predictive models. For example, digital media website Mashable uses the template to predict which headlines will do well on social media.

What happened: The company recently announced that it is expanding to Europe, where CEO Nick Elprin said they already have a few customers.

Why it matters: Elprin said Domino’s technology helps companies use their data in a more effective way. “More and more companies are building predictive models to drive business decisions,” he said.

Headquarters: San Francisco
Funding: $40 million
Employees: 60

Humble Bundle

What it does: A digital storefront for video games that donates a small percentage of its proceeds to charity.

What happened: The company, which could not be reached for comment, announced last week that it has raised more than $95 million for charity over the past seven years.

Why it matters: According to TechCrunch, Humble Bundle “is a reliable source of good deals on games.” The company is good at attracting positive press coverage of the big donations.

Headquarters: San Francisco
Funding: $4.48 million
Employees: 51-100

What it does: Provides companies with automated fixes to common networking problems.

What happened: CEO Kiran Gollu, who previously worked at Amazon Web Services, said the company has been working on “product growth” and reaching out to prospective customers.

Why it matters: Customers are often very unforgiving when a company’s servers crash. According to its website, says it can reduce downtime caused by basic problems.

Headquarters: San Mateo
Funding: $1.12 million
Employees: 11-50

©2017 the San Francisco Chronicle Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.