Uber relies heavily on Google’s extensive maps, but it appears that the ride-share company is getting ready to stand on their own. According to the Financial Times, it is planning to invest half a billion dollars into creating its own worldwide maps, a crucial step toward using autonomous cars.
This will allow the company to create their own detailed maps
The Financial Times reported that the company is looking to "pour $500m into an ambitious global mapping project," which would allow the company to create their own detailed maps. According to Brian McClendon, relying entirely on existing maps has been "a good starting point," but which don’t provide the granular level of detail that the company could use, such as traffic patterns, locations of doors or other potential pickup locations. This new investment will allow the company to build up tailor-made maps that would provide this level of detail.
Detailed maps are essential to Uber’s operations and its future. The company has begun taking some early steps into using autonomous vehicles, which would rely heavily on precise maps. The company has hired former Google employees such as McClendon, acquired mapping companies, and has forged partnerships with companies such as TomTom and DigitalGlobe.
Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that the company has expanded their mapping efforts into Mexico in what appears to be a first step in their larger worldwide mapping project. When it comes to maps however, Google has a decade-long head start, which gives it an edge in the race to deploy its own fleet of autonomous vehicles.