Uber is mapping the planet. The ride-sharing company has shown its commitment to having its own mapping data by rolling out map-cars in Singapore. This is one of 5 other countries that the mapping vehicles have been put in all 5 major continents.
The cars are cryptographic driver rides with mapping tech on top to collect data on real trips. According to the company, Uber will not keep imagery from the end points of your trip thus eliminating the issue of privacy. The data collected will also not be made public.
The company is a long way to getting its own comprehensive mapping data with mapping hardware only available in one country per continent outside North America. This though is an important step to reaching that goal. Uber relies on google for its regular mapping and has a strong incentive to develop a mapping product of its own.
Last year, it was reported that Uber planned to spend at least $500million on the ambitious mapping project. Additionally, the company has taken to poaching some of Google’s brightest mapping talent including Amit Singhal, Manik Gupta and Brian McCledon, all engineers involved in the core making of google maps.
The data collected will reflect the harder-to-pinpoint aspects of routes such as which side a building is facing. This will also be a major asset in Uber’s plan to roll out self-driving cars especially in Singapore which has embraced autonomous technology at a fast pace. The mapping investment by Uber is likely to pay off hugely when robotic ride-sharing is commonplace.
“Over the past decade, mapping innovation has disrupted industries and changed daily life in ways I couldn’t have imagined when I started,” said Manik Gupta, head of product at Uber. “That progress will only accelerate in the coming years especially with technologies like self-driving cars.”
The mapping cars are currently operating in US, Mexico, Canada, the UK, South Africa Australia and Singapore.