GrabMaps is preparing to launch KartaCam 2, a crowdsourced mapping solution combining high-end imagery and AI capabilities to transform local expertise into effective navigation solutions. With the introduction of enhanced features, KartaCam 2 builds upon the foundation laid by its predecessors, the initial KartaCam and KartaCam360 models.
GrabMaps, a leading superapp platform in Southeast Asia, provides diverse services, including mobility, food delivery, package and grocery delivery, mobile payments and financial services, across eight countries and 428 cities. Grab aims to enhance data collection efficiency and quality while reducing operational costs, and currently deploys thousands of KartaCams in its Southeast Asian operations. In the ongoing evolution of GrabMaps since its inception in 2017, the spotlight is now on the imminent launch of KartaCam 2.
The journey began with the deployment of KartaCams, small yet powerful action cameras affixed to bike helmets or car windshields, capturing high-quality street-level imagery. These cameras have become integral to mapmaking, with driver-partners using them during passenger transport or goods delivery.
Having already deployed thousands of KartaCams throughout Southeast Asia, GrabMaps has amassed billions of images to refine its accuracy and context-rich mapping.
The challenges of mapping Southeast Asia
In the first half of 2024, hundreds of KartaCam 2 units will be distributed widely across the region, further solidifying GrabMaps’ commitment to innovation and comprehensive mapping solutions. Early test results for KartaCam 2 have been encouraging. With its dual-band GPS module and an extendable antenna, both the position accuracy and the signal stability are much improved compared with the last generation.
By relying on in-house capabilities to build KartaCam 2, Grab could save close to 90% in hardware and imagery collection costs compared to outsourcing to a third party. Furthermore, third-party map providers have struggled to map some of the region’s more challenging terrain, such as small alleys that four-wheeled vehicles can’t pass through. As a result, Southeast Asia is not as well mapped as other parts of the world.
Large parts of the region are also developing at a rapid pace, and many big mapping players were not refreshing quickly enough to reflect real-life changes to roads and landmarks here. Another benefit of building their own mapping solutions is providing an additional income stream for driver-partners who help with gathering data. They have the flexibility to choose jobs they want, such as routes that they are familiar with or areas that are convenient to get to.
Driver-partners can sign up for jobs through the KartaView app. The company also regularly engages with driver-partners through social media, the Grab Driver app, and messaging apps to notify them of available opportunities.
Advanced reality capture sensor technology
KartaCam uses edge artificial intelligence (AI), which is a combination of edge computing and AI that brings computation closer to the devices collecting data, making collection faster and smarter. Other key features include 4G and Wi-Fi to allow Grab to configure the camera remotely, AI to check image quality without having to upload all images to the cloud, and Bluetooth to pair it with a driver-partner’s mobile phone.
While the initial KartaCam only had a 150-degree view, in the following year Grab built KartaCam360 by piecing four KartaCams together so that images collected could be stitched together to produce one panoramic image. This enabled the company to gather data with a quality level comparable to that of professional cameras, yet at a cost that was 10 times lower.
KartaCam 2 still uses edge AI but is much more powerful, enabling it to deliver images of even better quality and boast more precise location data. The device is also more portable and more intuitive to use. KartaCam 2 brings several key improvements:
- Four 48MP image sensors with full-coverage 360-degree imagery (360 degrees for both horizontal and vertical axes, versus KartaCam’s 84-degree vertical coverage)
- More accurate and precise positioning (10Hz GPS frequency from only 1Hz, and support for real-time kinematic GPS)
- Lidar compatibility: KartaCam 2 is set up to tap into this technology, which will let it deliver even more detailed spatial information
- Ergonomic, portable, easy to operate and much more efficient: Intensive user testing in Jakarta showed that the KartaCam 2 reduces the setup time by 83%.
The smart capturing function of the KartaCams has made uploading images to the cloud more cost-effective while decreasing the number of low-quality images. For instance, in the event of low-quality images it automatically performs retakes, and it can blur out personally identifiable information like faces and car licence plates.
Leap forward in street-level mapping
Grab serves a dynamic region, challenging the company to keep pace with technological advancements. KartaCam 2 is the result of combining the features of older cameras with newer, more advanced technology. The imminent launch of Grab’s KartaCam 2 signifies a leap forward in street-level mapping.
As one of Southeast Asia’s leading superapps, Grab strategically deploys these advanced cameras to enhance data collection efficiency, saving costs and reinforcing its commitment to innovation. Equipped with dual-band GPS, an extendable antenna and Lidar compatibility, KartaCam 2 delivers high-end accuracy and spatial information. From the inception of KartaCams, integral to Grab’s mapmaking, to the upcoming KartaCam 2, Grab continues its dedication to technological progress and mapping excellence, providing a seamless experience in the dynamic Southeast Asian region.
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