Facebook acquires Swedish mapping firm


In a major development, Facebook Inc acquired Mapillary, a Swedish mapping technology firm. The mapping firm collects images from tens of thousands of contributors to build immersive and up-to-date maps.

Mapillary Chief Executive Officer Jan Erik Solem said Mapillary’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.

Facebook confirmed the transaction, but declined to disclose the terms.

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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.

Mapillary crowd sources 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.

Many consider that information key for self-driving car technology, although a social media giant spokesman said it would also underpin Facebook products under development like augmented reality glasses and virtual reality headsets.