7 December, 2016
Apple Said to Fly Drones to Improve Maps Data and Catch Google
Apple Inc. plans to use drones and new indoor navigation features to improve its Maps service and catch longtime leader Google, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Cupertino, California-based company is assembling a team of robotics and data-collection experts that will use drones to capture and update map information faster than its existing fleet of camera-and-sensor ladened minivans, one of the people said.
Apple wants to fly drones around to do things like examine street signs, track changes to roads and monitor if areas are under construction, the person said. The data collected would be sent to Apple teams that rapidly update the Maps app to provide fresh information to users, the person added.
Apple is also developing new features for Maps, including views inside buildings and improvements to car navigation, another person familiar with the efforts said. The people asked not to be identified talking about private projects. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
Five years after Google Maps launched on the iPhone, Apple’s mapping app was introduced in 2012 with glaring errors like a grocery store marked as a hospital and an incorrect airport address. Apple lacked the technology needed to quickly suck in data from many different sources to evaluate and change the digital maps.