DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is among five investors providing $6.6 million in seed funding for Civil Maps, a California startup that creates three-dimensional maps for autonomous cars.
The other participants are Motus Ventures, Wicklow Capital, StartX Stanford and AME Cloud Ventures, a fund led by Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, Civil Maps said in a statement.
The company, which has 16 full-time employees, is based in Albany, Calif., and grew out of an accelerator program sponsored by Stanford University.
The startup uses artificial-intelligence software to aggregate raw 3-D data from sensors on self-driving cars to create highly detailed maps used to direct autonomous vehicles. Civil Maps said its format uses less data, reducing the cost of transmission over cellular networks. That lets the technology provide more real-time road data gathered through crowd-sourcing traffic information from other cars.
"Autonomous vehicles require a totally new kind of map," Sravan Puttagunta, CEO, said in the statement.
Ford declined to say how much it contributed to the seed funding.
"Investing in and working with Civil Maps gives us an additional way to develop 3-D high-resolution maps, which will bring fully autonomous Ford vehicles a step closer for consumers," Alan Hall, a spokesman for the automaker, said in an emailed statement.
Ford has been making modest bets on technology partners as it researches self-driving cars and the sharing economy. In May, the automaker invested $182.2 million to take a stake of about 6.6 percent in Pivotal Software, a cloud-computing company that helped it develop a mobility app.
Other automakers are also making similar moves. General Motors spent nearly $1 billion acquiring self-driving software maker Cruise Automation and invested $500 million for a 9 percent stake in ride-hailing company Lyft. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has teamed with Google to develop 100 self-driving minivans.