Top

SoftBank’s Investment to Drive Mapbox’s AI-based Map, Location Services

  • Mapbox has received $280 million in Series E funding from SoftBank.
  • The latest investment will enhance AI-powered map and location services.
  • Riding on the generative AI wave, Mapbox has launched AI voice assistant MapGPT.

Many industries are grappling with the question of how best to exploit the power of AI and, in particular, generative AI. The location industry is no different. Last year, we saw the introduction of HERE’s AI-powered Unimap, which kickstarted the race among digital mapmakers. SoftBank, which has been an active investor in AI ventures, has poured $280 million into a Series E funding round of Mapbox recently. Earlier, the map company had raised a total of $360 million since its inception in 2011, with $160 million coming from SoftBank in 2017 to help Mapbox’s expansion in new industries and regions. The recent investment from SoftBank can be seen as another AI-centric bet in its portfolio to support Mapbox’s efforts to develop its own AI-based map and related location services.

Let us have a look at Mapbox’s current offerings in the automotive industry and how its new AI-powered products are addressing the challenges posed by ADAS and electrification:

Mapbox Autopilot Map works by combining data from vehicle sensors with maps. Using AI, the system detects the changes in the road when enough vehicles have passed through a certain point and then integrates the changes into the Autopilot Map. This keeps the map fresh and improves the coverage as Mapbox customers drive billions of miles every week. The update process is very bandwidth efficient as the tile that includes the data gets updated instead of downloading the whole map. This also means the maps get updated at a very low cost.

Mapbox Autopilot Map splash screen

Mapbox for EV is a service that addresses the flawed EV experience for customers, OEMs and the charging point operators (CPOs). Mapbox offers three EV products to address these three stakeholders. Mapbox EV Routing service takes account of the in-vehicle battery system and monitors energy consumption patterns to predict the range of the vehicle by considering the vehicle type, road elevation and weather conditions. Mapbox EV Charging service tracks the real-time availability of charging stations and offers secure integrated payments. Using its AI and ML technology, the company collects data on energy consumption patterns, availability, compatibility and performance of the charging station. This allows OEMs to get insights into the overall EV experience and provide a seamless driving experience by partnering with CPOs.

Map screen of the Mapbox Autopilot Map app that shows three charging stations between the user's current location and the destination

Car's center console showing the charging station info as the user approaches it

Charging screen as the user connects the charging cable to his car, displaying the time to charge, and the corresponding amount

Jumping on the generative AI bandwagon, Mapbox has introduced MapGPT, a location-aware conversational AI service. MapGPT is based on live data and location services from Mapbox. It can have in-depth and richer conversations about real-time traffic, POIs, road networks and navigation. MapGPT uses Large Language Models (LLMs) from ChatGPT3.5 and ChatGPT 4.0 when connected to the internet, while the offline MapGPT uses a Tiny Large Language Model (LLM) from Mapbox. MapGPT comes with plugins which are also called “actions” with third-party integrations for music and restaurants. It is highly customizable as it allows custom actions like cabin temperature. OEMs can also integrate their own LLM into MapGPT. Customizations for voice, personality, animated avatar and wake word are also available. Mapbox has announced partnerships with a Japanese payment service called PayPay which allows drivers to purchase and pay for services.

Screens of MapGPT, a location-aware conversational AI service by Mapbox, on a phone and the car's center console

App screens of the Japanese payment service PayPay

Analyst take

Over the years, Mapbox has emerged as a developer-focused location platform with excellent graphics rendering capabilities. With its open-source and modular architecture, the company is posing a serious challenge to the incumbents. Mapbox secured the fourth position in Counterpoint’s Location Platform Effectiveness Scorecard 2022.

The recent funding is expected to help Mapbox in the following ways:

Expansion in automotive industry: The company has managed to pivot well into the automotive business by acquiring customers like BMW, Toyota and General Motors for its navigation services. However, carmakers are experiencing a paradigm shift led by technological innovations like electrification and autonomy. They are struggling to offer best-in-class solutions for EV driving or assisted driving as both these rely on highly accurate location-based data. Realizing this gap, Mapbox wants to bring AI into most aspects of mapping and navigation to offer intelligent maps leveraging the growing number of data points they are receiving. The company will be putting more resources into building maps (ISA, ADAS/AD) and services (EV routing, Charging Points and Payments) contextualized data to address the challenges posed by ongoing trends like autonomy and electrification. BMW Mini EV will be equipped with Mapbox technology including EV services.

The center console of a BMW Mini EV

First-mover advantage: Different players across the automotive value chain are looking at various use cases to integrate generative AI in the car, one of them being the personal assistant. Since the emergence of ChatGPT, only a handful of companies have explored the generative AI potential to elevate the cockpit experience. Hence, through MapGPT, the company is drawing the attention of automakers to create fully customized voice assistants capable of having natural and richer conversations. Mapbox is well-positioned to marry its location-based services like navigation to build customizable intelligent AI voice assistants for natural and rich conversations on the go. Having a first-mover advantage, the company can seek partnerships with automakers, Tier-1 players and even semiconductor companies like Qualcomm and Nvidia to customize its MapGPT based on their chips.

Navigation app showing nearby eating spots.

Growth and valuation: Mapbox has raised a more than $600 million over eight rounds of funding since its inception. In 2021, the company was in talks to go public through a SoftBank-backed SPAC at a valuation of $2 billion. However, Mapbox decided to remain private. Riding on the AI hypercycle, Mapbox’s valuation is expected to go higher. This increased valuation will likely attract further investments and partnerships.

Related Posts

Counterpoint research is a young and fast growing research firm covering analysis of the tech industry. Coverage areas are connected devices, digital consumer goods, software & applications and other adjacent topics. We provide syndicated research reports as well as tailored. Our seminars and workshops for companies and institutions are popular and available on demand. Consulting and customized work on the above topics is provided for high precision projects.

Apple Snack Pack

PREMIUM

Understanding iPhone

Term of Use and Privacy Policy

Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited

Registration

In order to access Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited (Company or We hereafter) Web sites, you may be asked to complete a registration form. You are required to provide contact information which is used to enhance the user experience and determine whether you are a paid subscriber or not.
Personal Information When you register on we ask you for personal information. We use this information to provide you with the best advice and highest-quality service as well as with offers that we think are relevant to you. We may also contact you regarding a Web site problem or other customer service-related issues. We do not sell, share or rent personal information about you collected on Company Web sites.

How to unsubscribe and Termination

You may request to terminate your account or unsubscribe to any email subscriptions or mailing lists at any time. In accessing and using this Website, User agrees to comply with all applicable laws and agrees not to take any action that would compromise the security or viability of this Website. The Company may terminate User’s access to this Website at any time for any reason. The terms hereunder regarding Accuracy of Information and Third Party Rights shall survive termination.

Website Content and Copyright

This Website is the property of Counterpoint and is protected by international copyright law and conventions. We grant users the right to access and use the Website, so long as such use is for internal information purposes, and User does not alter, copy, disseminate, redistribute or republish any content or feature of this Website. User acknowledges that access to and use of this Website is subject to these TERMS OF USE and any expanded access or use must be approved in writing by the Company.
– Passwords are for user’s individual use
– Passwords may not be shared with others
– Users may not store documents in shared folders.
– Users may not redistribute documents to non-users unless otherwise stated in their contract terms.

Changes or Updates to the Website

The Company reserves the right to change, update or discontinue any aspect of this Website at any time without notice. Your continued use of the Website after any such change constitutes your agreement to these TERMS OF USE, as modified.
Accuracy of Information: While the information contained on this Website has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, We disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. User assumes sole responsibility for the use it makes of this Website to achieve his/her intended results.

Third Party Links: This Website may contain links to other third party websites, which are provided as additional resources for the convenience of Users. We do not endorse, sponsor or accept any responsibility for these third party websites, User agrees to direct any concerns relating to these third party websites to the relevant website administrator.

Cookies and Tracking

We may monitor how you use our Web sites. It is used solely for purposes of enabling us to provide you with a personalized Web site experience.
This data may also be used in the aggregate, to identify appropriate product offerings and subscription plans.
Cookies may be set in order to identify you and determine your access privileges. Cookies are simply identifiers. You have the ability to delete cookie files from your hard disk drive.