Introducing lvl5 RoadDelta: “git diff for maps”

By | August 3, 2018

When Christopher Columbus set sail August 3rd, 1492, he did so with a map that incorrectly assumed a much smaller circumference of the earth. As he landed in the Bahamas from Spain, he was likely convinced that Japan was not much farther east. We know now that his map was incomplete; no maps of the day had yet incorporated the American landmass. To the world’s surprise, Columbus was a continent and an ocean away from reaching the riches of the Far East.

Today, exactly five hundred and twenty six years later, cartographers are still largely solving the same two problems: First, mapping undiscovered places, and second, keeping maps of those places updated.

Thanks to technological progress since the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, we can confidently say that there are no longer any landmasses that have been left unmapped on earth; however, map coverage with centimeter precision is still nascent. lvl5 has pioneered computer vision technology that allows anybody to help map out roads to decimeter resolution. Today, lvl5 has the largest vectorized centimeter map coverage of any map company worldwide, with over 500,000 miles of mapped roads.

The second challenge mapmakers face is keeping their works updated. Landmasses might not change too quickly, but on today’s urban roads the environment is changing every minute of every hour — construction cones are deployed, traffic signs are toppled, and bike lanes are added.

Today, lvl5 is releasing RoadDelta, the world’s first API for tracking these surface-level road changes in near real-time. RoadDelta allows engineers and data scientists to monitor specific areas of the world for changes in the environment with unparalleled decimeter accuracy. One can draw a bounding box, and lvl5 will fire a callback when any of these events happens:

  • Sign added / removed
  • Traffic light added / removed
  • Lane line repainted
  • Road resurfaced
  • Construction Cone Deployed
  • Construction Equipment Deployed
  • Drivable space modification
  • Road closures

Lvl5 RoadDelta is backed by a fleet of over 10,000 Payver drivers. Combined with proprietary deep learning algorithms to reduce false positive detections, lvl5 automatically detects the changes in the environment from video footage. This allows lvl5 to offer the world’s first “git diff for maps” service at reasonable costs.

API usage is billed per square meter, per day. Developers may request callbacks on new changes or view historical changes using the REST endpoints, supplying a polygonal region of interest (GeoJSON).

Currently the service is available in San Francisco, and US-101 between San Francisco and San Jose. As the Payver fleet expands, lvl5 will be quickly adding more coverage areas.

lvl5 is opening up early access to RoadDelta for any companies interested in trying the product. Submit this form to get an API key.


Introducing lvl5 RoadDelta: “git diff for maps” was originally published in lvl5 on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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