USA: Five US Departments of Transportation (DOTs) have uploaded photologs with 40 million images covering 270,000 miles of road data to Mapillary, the computer vision-powered street-level imagery platform, in an effort to understand infrastructure and road safety at scale through computer vision, a form of artificial intelligence. The news is announced as the Mapillary platform was recently recognized by the US Federal Highway Administration as an important tool for understanding and improving road safety. Road safety is a huge issue across the United States, as a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that nearly 40,000 people die on US streets each year.
Janine Yoong, VP of Business Development at Mapillary, says: “A huge part of the puzzle for DOTs is to be able to make sense of all the data they have. You need quick and scalable ways of assessing roads and the surrounding infrastructure, whether that’s the actual roads or things like guard rails. Most DOTs manage road networks that span across hundreds of thousands of miles, so this has previously been a very laborious and expensive task.”
The computer vision technology built by Mapillary is some of the world’s best technology for understanding street-level scenes at scale, as it automatically detects everything from guard rails and traffic signs to crosswalks and potholes. The technology taps into a pressing issue as the recent WHO report shows that traffic injury is the leading cause of death for people aged between 5 and 29 years, while traffic accidents in the US are estimated to cost a staggering $871 billion annually.
Yoong says Mapillary saves DOTs both time and money, as the technology allows a better understanding of road networks:
“Most people don’t think about things like traffic signs and road conditions until it’s broken, but keeping track of this is of absolute necessity to ensure that people on the roads remain safe. This has typically required physically visit various roads and sites, or manually analyzing photos. Having access to readily analyzed photos saves both time and taxpayers’ money, and helps ensure road safety”.
DOTs in Utah, Florida, Arizona, Connecticut, and Vermont have all uploaded complete photologs of their road networks, totalling 40 million images. All the images are open for anyone to view on mapillary.com/app.