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.
“There’s a huge data-quality issue there, and I don’t think we initially appreciated all the kinds of technology we would need to do that on an ongoing basis,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, told Fast Company earlier this year.
Digital maps are crucial tools for Apple and Google to attract developers that build popular travel, ride-sharing, and retail apps and services that integrate with the companies’ mobile operating systems. Collecting accurate data is the most important part of digital map building and Apple’s latest moves could help it match the prodigious capabilities of Google in this field.
Since Apple Maps launched, the company has improved the app by more quickly updating data, adding a mode for navigating public transit systems, improving search results, and opening the platform to outside services such as Uber ride-hailing and OpenTable restaurant reservations. The drone initiative is a continuation of this effort and is unlikely to be related to a commercial Apple drone product.Read more, source