US: Mapbox has acquired MapData, an artificial intelligence mapping startup based in Belarus that focuses on building neural networks to improve computer vision for applications like augmented reality.
The deal will lead to the opening of a new office in the city of Minsk and more engineers will be hired to help build its next big product, an SDK that will let developers build augmented reality-based maps into their apps that will work by way of the front-facing cameras on people’s devices. This SDK should now be coming in Q1 of next year, Mapbox CEO and founder Eric Gundersen said in an interview.
Before the acquisition, MapData was a partner of Mapbox and provided engineering support on open source projects for the past 18 months.
Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Yuri Melnicheck, a Belarussian entrepreneur and investor is an advisor to Mapbox. He made the introduction between the two companies.
Alexander Matveenko, The CEO of MapData, who will now lead Mapbox’s Belarussian division, had earlier worked at Maps.me, which has now been acquired by Mail.ru in Russia.
Acquisition of a neural network and AI specialist will serve two purposes — it will be creating a service that a large number of people will be interested in using, and it will be creating an interface that will collect more data, specially in the area of street views, which is crucial for building out Mapbox’s dataset to do more in the field of autonomous driving systems.