3D Map Maker Carmera Expands to Seattle

Brooklyn means many things to many people.

For some, it calls to mind a “fuhgettaboutit” wise guy attitude. For others, it’s the birthplace of hipsterdom, complete with handlebar mustaches and mixologist-made cocktails. But the most populated borough in New York City is also gaining a new reputation. While Brooklyn will never be confused with Silicon Valley, or even its Manhattan counterpart, Silicon Alley, the borough is quickly becoming home to a slew of cutting-edge tech companies.

One such company is Carmera. Founded in 2015 by Ro Gupta, formerly the head of development for Disqus, and Justin Day, former CTO of another Brooklyn startup Makerbot, Carmera focuses primarily on the development of real-time, three-dimensional street maps for autonomous vehicle navigation systems.

The company has been growing at a healthy clip, so much so that it is now expanding beyond its Brooklyn roots. In December, the company’s leadership announced that it was opening a Seattle office to host five of its 15 employees, including one third of its executive team.

While 21 states have passed legislation regarding driverless cars, Washington is one of six that — instead of legislation — has a standing executive order that permits the testing of self-driving cars within its borders.

Other states with similar executive orders include Massachusetts and Arizona, both of which are considered among the friendliest states in the country for AV development.

Over 20 companies based in Washington develop technology that is connected to self-driving cars in some form, including interactive machine learning company Mighty AI.

In addition to its friendliness towards driverless cars, Seattle is an ideal place for a digital mapping company to set up shop.

“Other than the Bay Area, no city in the U.S. has as many top-notch software engineers with a background in maps due to the presence of Microsoft (first MapPoint, then Bing Maps), Google (Maps teams located in their Fremont office), Amazon (for the Fire Phone and Logistics), Tableau, Inrix and many startups/smaller companies in the mapping space (such as Glympse),” Carmera chief product officer Ethan Sorrelgreen wrote in an email to GeekWire.

Carmera will work out of CoMotion Labs at the University of Washington, a startup incubator for young companies working in engineering, IT, clean tech and augmented reality. Between 60 and 90 startups are working out of the Labs at any given time, providing constant and invaluable networking opportunities for the Carmera employees that will be stationed there.

Carmera refers to its 3D maps as “professionally crowdsourced,” referring to a trusted network of sensors that help build virtual street maps and live feeds of construction, accidents or other real-time events that might affect an autonomous system’s decision-making process.

The Seattle expansion comes on the heels of a $6.4 million round of funding raised in June with partners including Matrix Partners, Resolute Ventures, Notation Capital and NFL Hall-of-Famer Joe Montana.


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