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The Linux Foundation announced it formed the Overture Maps Foundation, a collaborative effort to create interoperable open map data as a shared asset. The Overture Maps Foundation aims to strengthen mapping services worldwide and enable current and next-generation mapping products. These mapping services could be crucial to robotic applications like autonomous driving.
Currently, companies developing and rolling out autonomous vehicles have to spend massive amounts of time and money meticulously mapping the cities they’re deploying in. Additionally, those companies have to continuously remap those cities to account for any changes in road work or traffic laws.
The foundation is founded by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Meta, Microsoft and TomTom. Overture hopes to add more members in the future to include a wide range of signals and data inputs. Members of the foundation will combine their resources to create map data that is complete, accurate and refreshed as the physical world changes. The resulting data will be open and extensible under an open data license.
“Mapping the physical environment and every community in the world, even as they grow and change, is a massively complex challenge that no one organization can manage. Industry needs to come together to do this for the benefit of all,” Jim Zemlin, executive director for the Linux Foundation, said. “We are excited to facilitate this open collaboration among leading technology companies to develop high quality, open map data that will enable untold innovations for the benefit of people, companies, and communities.”
The Overture Maps foundation aims to build maps using data from multiple sources, including Overture members, civic organizations and open data sources, and simplify interoperability by creating a system that links entities from different data sets to the same real-world entities. All data used by Overture will undergo validation to ensure there are no map errors, breakage or vandalism within the mapping data.
Overture also aims to help drive the adoption of a common, structured and documented data schema to create an easy-to-use ecosystem of map data. Currently, developers looking to create detailed maps have to source and curate their data from disparate sources, which can be difficult and expensive. Not to mention, many datasets use different conventions and vocabulary to reference the same real-world entities.
“Microsoft is committed to closing the data divide and helping organizations of all sizes to realize the benefits of data as well as the new technologies it powers, including geospatial data,” Russell Dicker, Corporate Vice President, Product, Maps and Local at Microsoft, said. “Current and next-generation map products require open map data built using AI that’s reliable, easy-to-use and interoperable. We’re proud to contribute to this important work to help empower the global developer community as they build the next generation of location-based applications.”
Overture hopes to release its first datasets in the first half of 2023. The initial release will include basic layers including buildings, road and administrative information, but Overture plans to steadily add more layers like places, routing or 3D building data.