Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to the field of digital maps. The operations include obtaining images, obtaining three-dimensional surface measurements and textures via varying methods including road vehicles, drones and humans with specialized backpacks with LIDAR and more.
Digital maps store mapping information in a computer-interpretable format and can include and display features similar to those associated with traditional paper maps, such as geographical features, topographical features, political boundaries, attractions, and transportation networks. Photographic images can be combined with mapping information, such as by displaying map features overlaid on an image. This type of display can be used to provide additional information to users of maps or can be used as a basis for annotating maps (i.e., adding additional mapping information) to describe features that can be seen in the image. These images are typically captured using cameras that are carried by satellites or airplanes.
Apple's granted patent covers Apple devices other than satellites or planes. Apple's patent covers a sidewalk-level device carried by a human, a vehicle (car/SUV or van) for road-level data and drones for overhead perspective data.
The operations include obtaining images, obtaining three-dimensional surface measurements, defining a three-dimensional mesh using the three-dimensional surface measurements, texturing the three-dimensional mesh using the images to define a textured three-dimensional mesh, identifying a first portion of the textured three-dimensional mesh, identifying a second portion of the textured three-dimensional mesh that obstructs visibility of part of the first portion of the textured three-dimensional mesh from an overhead perspective, and rendering a simulated overhead perspective image such that the second portion of the textured three-dimensional mesh is not represented in the simulated overhead perspective image.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 below is an illustration that illustrates a data collector device #302 performing a data collection operation at street level. The photo beneath patent FIG. 3 was taken by a MacRumors Reader by the name of Dante Cesa back in 2018.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 below illustrates a mapping camera mounted on an Apple Vehicle with a camera, a LIDAR sensor used to obtain road-level three-dimensional surface measurements; Apple's patent figure 4 illustrates a "quadrotor drone" that supports a camera and 3D Sensor for "overhead perspective images. Bloomberg reported on this back in 2016 stating: "Apple wants to fly drones around to do things like examine street signs, track changes to roads, and monitor if areas are under construction."
Apple's patent FIG. 14 above is an example of an image (#1470) generated from an overhead perspective.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11,189,082.
Fredrik Larsson: Senior Engineering Manager – Computer Vision/Machine Learning.
Jizhou Gao: Software Engineer at Apple 3D Vision
Andreas Böckert: Software Engineer (Algorithms and research for 3D reconstruction as a part of the Apple maps flyover team.)
Ibrahim Musba: Software Engineer (Working as a part Software Engineer part researcher improving and developing algorithms for the flyover maps.)
Zin; Jim Loup: (Couldn't find profile on LinkedIn)
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