Effortless Mapping with a Customized Mapillary Dashcam
As a Mapillary contributor, you collect images when it best suits you. It could be a 20-minute walk, a bicycle trip, or many hours of driving. If you are going out for long hours or even days of capture while driving, the requirements to your camera will be different than during an hour of walking. You’ll need a camera that can handle larger volumes of data and run for many hours without operational challenges or the need for a lot of interaction.
While Mapillary is already supporting a wide range of devices, we are now making our first ever recommendation for a dash camera. The ideal model helps our contributors achieve these three goals:
- Image quality: does the camera improve the quality of contributions? This could be through reliability, better GPS positioning, or higher capture frame rates.
- Image capture volume: does the device enable capturing imagery more frequently? With a low-touch device, easy mounting, and larger storage, you can capture during more hours of your drive and during even the longest trips.
- Capture versatility: can you make the camera easy to use and accessible to many vehicle types and capture conditions? Does the camera make it easier to capture imagery for many mapping purposes? Using higher resolution sensors, you can capture even the smallest text on signage for curb mapping.
After extensive research and testing of dashcams for street-level imagery capture at both the personal and fleet levels, we found a clear winner. The BlackVue DR900s, developed by Pittasoft, is an all-in-one camera with embedded GPS, wide field of view, and captures amazing detail with 4K (8.3-megapixel) resolution.
The BlackVue works with any vehicle type, as it is discreet and adjusts to all windshields with various degrees of window slant. It’s resilient throughout mapping adventures, including rough conditions where you kick up dust and hit bumps along the road. In commercial fleet settings, the device can run continuously for the full work shift and day of operation.
To optimize the camera for mapping purposes, we developed a Mapillary edition of the BlackVue DR900s with a special firmware designed for capturing imagery that helps improve maps from every hour of your drive. It doesn’t matter if it’s one individual collecting the images, or an entire fleet of vehicles, such as street sweepers, delivery vans, and ridesharing cars. With configurable frame rates and storage that allows multiple days of capture before uploading, it’s easy to add mapping to any driving routines.
For such a powerful and easy-to-use dashcam, we also need a matching solution for uploading the vast amounts of imagery. That is why we added support for the BlackVue into our Desktop Uploader. All you need to do is drop your video files to the uploader and let it do the heavy lifting to get the imagery onto the Mapillary platform.
Putting it to the test
Our community and customers have already achieved great results with the BlackVue. For example, the City of Washington, DC equipped its street sweepers with BlackVues to document leaf cleanup, gathering 2.8 million images within just two months. And since the launch of our camera grant program, we have sent out six dashcams to our community, spanning from Australia to the United States.
Mapillary community member bob3bob3 was one of the first people to receive a BlackVue in the Camera Grant Program. Bob is retired and travels more than 25,000 km annually across Australia in his Volkswagen van. Up to this point, he contributed to Mapillary using a webcam modified for street-level image capture and collected over one million images with this setup, but the resolution could have been better. Another challenge for Bob was that capturing for many hours in the extreme heat of Australia can be tough on electronic equipment. The BlackVue dashcam has allowed Bob to improve the quality of his imagery contributions significantly.
The left picture was captured with bob3bob3’s previous camera set up and the right one with his new BlackVue DR900s
How to get the camera
With dedicated firmware that optimizes the dashcam to capture images for mapping purposes and a simple upload process, the Mapillary edition of the BlackVue DR900s is the perfect companion for both casual and commercial mappers. You can learn more about using the camera on our Help Center.
To celebrate the BlackVue DR900s joining Mapillary’s tools, we’ll increase the number of BlackVue cameras that we send out for our camera grant program this month. That’s ten BlackVue dashcams going out to ten lucky camera grant applicants in June, so make sure to submit your application as soon as possible.
If you would like to purchase a camera from Mapillary or learn more about using the BlackVue dashcams to collect imagery with your existing fleet, please email us.
/Ryan, Director of Strategic Operations