Thailand’s residents can now have access to accurate roadmaps of their country as social media giant Facebook has managed to map 300,000 miles of the country using artificial intelligence. The information which is now in public space was completed within 18 months which if done manually would have taken 100 mapping experts more than a couple of years. The maps can be used for disaster control, quick response and planning urban regions. Though even now many parts of the world remain unmapped Facebook used “Map with AI” tool to map hitherto unmapped regions of Thailand. The app also has AI generated maps of Mexico, Nigeria, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Uganda and Afghanistan.
Facebook is planning to add several more countries to the app in future. The AI technology uses satellite images with resolution of 2 sq. ft. per 1 pixel to distinguish roads from rivers and walkways. During the recent Thailand road mapping exercise Facebook used the assistance of human experts to review the raw data and correct road networks that were identified by AI system. The chief intention of Facebook to map the world is to improve internet access in rural areas and add as many users as possible to its social network.
The mapping project of Facebook is a joint collaboration between OpenStreetMap which was built by a mappers’ community that maintains data of roads, communication networks and railways networks across the world. According to Martijn Van Exel a long time contributor of OSM mapping the world in detail without help of machines is not possible. Facebook’s program manager for maps and location infrastructure stated that the firm is interested in making OSM data perfectly accurate and people respond positively to high quality products. But experts say that modern algorithms used in these apps are invented to work with developed infrastructure in developing nations where roads are not maintained properly or developed so it is difficult to identify some features.