Social media network Facebook has acquired Swedish mapping technology company Mapillary, which collects images from contributors to build immersive and up-to-date maps.
Financial details were not disclosed.
Mapillary chief executive officer Jan Erik Solem, who founded the Malmo-based startup after leaving Apple in 2013, said his company’s technology would be used to power products like Facebook Marketplace and supply data to humanitarian organizations.
Solem had sold a facial recognition startup, Polar Rose, to Apple in 2010.
Mapillary aims to solve one of the most expensive problems in mapping: keeping maps updated with “street level data” about signs, addresses and other information that can be observed from the road.
Big companies such as Apple and Alphabet’s Google solve the problem by sending out fleets of vehicles outfitted with cameras and other sensors to gather images.
Mapillary crowdsources the images, ingesting pictures contributed from smart phones and other types of cameras, and uses “computer vision” technology to stitch them together into a three-dimensional map.