Uber plots global roadmap scan to help drivers

By BBC Technology

Uber is embarking on a global mapping project that it hopes will offer its drivers more useful data on pick-up locations and traffic patterns.

Currently the taxi-booking app relies on Google’s mapping technology to display local maps and mark pick-up locations.

But a senior Uber executive says that more relevant information can be drawn if it produces its own road maps.

The firm is said to be investing $500m (£380m) in the mapping project.

“Existing maps are a good starting point, but some information isn’t that relevant to Uber, like ocean topography,” said Brian McClendon, who up until 2014 was vice-president of Google Maps.

Writing on Uber’s website, Mr McClendon said: “There are other things we need to know a lot more about, like traffic patterns and precise pick-up and drop-off locations.”

“Moreover, we need to be able to provide a seamless experience in parts of the world where there aren’t detailed maps, or street signs,” he added.

Last year, Uber began scanning roads across the US using mapping cars, which can track the geographical position of each street and motorway.

The firm said that these vehicles will be operational in Mexico “this summer”, as part of a wider plan to use these vehicles in big cities around the world.

According to The Financial Times, Uber has set aside some $500m for its global mapping strategy.

Uber declined to comment on the purported investment figure, as well as the structure of its global plan, when contacted by the BBC.


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