Apple Reportedly Taking On Google Maps With Road-Tracking Drones

When it comes to tracking and recording America’s roadways it makes sense that companies like Google would deploy camera-equipped vehicles to cruise the streets. But Apple has a different idea: take to the sky. 

Bloomberg, citing sources familiar with the matter, reports that Apple will add a fleet of drones to its current roster of camera-and-sensor equipped minivans that criss-cross the U.S. in order to best rival Google and more quickly collect information for the company’s Maps app.

Under the new initiative, Apple will work with robotics and data-collection experts to capture and update maps faster than it’s currently able to with its fleet of actual road traveling vehicles.

Specifically, the drones will examine street signs and make note of areas under construction where roads are being improved to created. This data will then be sent to Apple techs who will “rapidly” update the app, Bloomberg reports.

In addition to collecting data about roadways, Apple is working to develop a system with recently acquired startup that would allow it to see inside buildings.

Indoor mapping, the source tells Bloomberg, would allow Apple to create maps of museums, airports, and other large buildings that could be confusing for consumers to navigate.

Bloomberg reports that the idea of using drones to map roads has been around for at least a year at Apple, as the company applied for a Federal Aviation Administration exemption to fly commercial drones in Sept. 2015.

The FAA granted the exemption in March, according to Bloomberg, giving it the ability to “operate an an unmanned aircraft system to conduct data collection, photography, and videography.”

It’s unclear when the drones could take flight. Apple declined to provide comment to Bloomberg on the new initiatives.

Apple Said to Fly Drones to Improve Maps Data and Catch Google [Bloomberg]

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