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Uber is using Microsoft's old fleet of Bing cars to improve its maps data

After acquiring Microsoft's mapping technology and roughly 100 Bing engineers earlier this year, Uber has dispatched its own fleet of crewed vehicles in an attempt to improve upon its own maps back end. The cars are essentially rebranded versions of the Bing mapping cars that Microsoft had on the road before deciding it no longer wanted to collect its own map data. BuzzFeed News reports that Uber has been using them to capture 3D imagery of streets — just like Street View — that the company hopes can make its ETA estimates more precise and help drivers take smarter routes around intersections that are prone to congestion. The image data being captured won't (yet) replace the existing maps interface that Uber's drivers are familiar with, which blends Google Maps with "a proprietary routing algorithm" according to BuzzFeed News.

Longer term, that data will also prove useful for Uber's autonomous driving pursuits. In fact, Uber has a second group of cars traversing roads near the Advanced Technologies Center at Carnegie Mellon University; this fleet specifically focuses on self-driving tech by recording images that "inform routing as well as safety needs specifically for Uber’s autonomous cars."