Shuichi Yoshimura, EVP
The global 3D mapping technology market is multiplying, owing to its ability to create an accurate digital representation of the real world. As its value becomes more apparent in an array of domains like infrastructure, disaster management, automobile, and many others, the demand for accurate and up-to-date 3D mapping data only increasing. The purpose-built HD Map datasets-which contain significantly more detailed and precise information than those found in current digital maps/conventional resources—have become highly essential to operate safely and smartly. Like all the other nations, Japan is also in the race to harness high-precision 3D maps’ full benefits. Under the Strategic Innovation Program (SIP) promoted by the Japanese government, the Cabinet Office has decided to commercialize the creation of high-precision 3D maps in Japan. The HD map and location data acquired from the 3D map technology will be critical elements to establish new services in different parts of the world for companies in various industries. To address these challenges and achieve its goal of digitizing the entire planet, Dynamic Map Platform (DMP), a promising Japanbased startup, has established technology and know-how to create a high-precision 3D map with centimeter class absolute accuracy required for autonomous driving. “We are a company that replicates real space into high-precision 3D digital data. It is as if the entire earth we live on is recreated in cyberspace,” states Shuichi Yoshimura, EVP of DMP.
The company was initially founded in 2016 as a part of a Japanese government initiative and as a carve-out startup created by joint investments of Japanese space (satellite), mapping, and surveying company along with ten automotive companies. The company’s unique share structure allows them to manage the complicated business with ease and speed that only startups can provide and solid technological capabilities backed by large Japanese companies. In 2019, the company acquired Ushr, US-based startup which has been spinned-off by Canadian surveying company and was invested by GM and VCs to strengthen its technical capabilities. “At the time, we thought of ourselves as the only company in the world who can provide cm-grade HD maps, but we found that Ushr had similar capability to provide the same level of quality,” explains Yoshimura. After thorough consideration and discussions, DMP decided to acquire Ushr. Interestingly, the DMP group, including Ushr, is the only company that provides a cm-grade HD map on a global scale, and as a result of the acquisition, the operations are already larger in North America than in Japan.
Dynamic Map Platform is not merely a data provider but also a company with solid land survey know-how, reflecting its data accuracy; this makes them second to none.
The data can be simulated as often as needed, and space can be freely processed or added to new meaning. By overlapping the data with the real world, users can achieve a high level of safety, efficiency, and comfort in various areas such as transportation, logistics, lifestyle, machine control, and infrastructure management. “With this concept and notion, we can work to create a new world,” proclaims Yoshimura.
DMP is highly confident about its data and firmly believes that the data they provide via its 3D platform is the only highprecision 3D map globally, which can locate locations with centimeter-level accuracy. The company’s data processing methodology consists of “acquisition of new data” through surveying and mapping. Also, the data gets updated when road changes occur. These methodologies are developed by combining the technologies of its shareholders and proprietary technologies from Ushr based in the US.
Explaining how the HD map data works, Yoshimura says, “The working of our technology is different for different applications.” For automotive applications, regardless of human driving or autonomous, there are three significant steps involved, which are “recognition,” “decision,” and “control”. For the “recognition” step, the company’s HD map helps localize the vehicles and allows users to recognize the surrounding environment allowing them to drive safely and comfortably. Although sensors such as cameras, millimeter-wave radar, and LiDAR play a significant role in this process, there is a specific limitation when these sensors operate alone. For example, when entering a curve with no end in sight, sensing is physically impossible no matter how sophisticated the sensors are. In this regard, HD maps reinforce the accuracy of the “decision” and “control” and stable control of the vehicle by foreseeing the road shape beyond the range capturable by the sensors. Besides, by providing information on the surrounding environment, the HD map reinforces sensor capabilities, for instance, in blurred white lines or poor weather conditions due to rain or fog.
On the other hand, for non-automotive applications, DMP’s data can be utilized for infrastructure maintenance, disaster prevention/mitigation simulations, and other mobilities such as delivery robot, drones and EVTOL to manage complicated routing with centimeter accuracy even under non-GPS environment. Also, demand for its data is growing for automotive OEMs and Tier-1 companies to conduct virtual simulation to develop AD/ ADAS system and optimize sensor configuration.
Typically, the dynamic maps used for AD/ADAS, information such as lane, and signpost, among others) changes every few months or a few years. This data is defined as a static layer, which automobile OEMs and Tier-1 companies, and map companies should adopt and share a common specification. To overcome this issue, DMP has partnered with leading map companies, surveying companies, and automobile OEMs in Japan, which allows them to gather their know-how and technology. “Our data plays an essential role to realize ADAS driving for high-end vehicles such as the Nissan Skyline Propirot 2.0 in Japan and the GM CT6 Super Cruise in US, which are both released in the market and at commercial production phase. Also, Honda recently adopted our HD map for its “Honda Sensing Elite” which achieves Level 3 autonomous driving” informs Yoshimura.
Leveraging its presence and track record as the group company in the US, DMP aims to expand its B2B data service business both by area and industry. Ushr has offices in Michigan and California, which will ease the communication with the automotive industry and with startups. “I think the hybrid of Japan and the US, Michigan and California, is what makes us unique,” says Yoshimura.
Further, the company has announced POC on March 17, 2020, which is collaborated with Woven Alpha (formerly TRIAD), a Toyota group company aiming to realize higher efficiency of data maintenance. Also, in February this year, DMP agreed a partnership with Valeo, a leading automotive supplier in autonomous and connected vehicles, for development of technical and business studies of high precision localization and map update technologies. As a part of their plans, DMP has already received funding equivalent to approx. US$200 mil from its shareholders and will work toward raising large-scale funding this year to expand business globally.