Uber Spending $500 Million to Map the World for Its Service
The ride-hailing service wants to move into its own lane, so to speak, and relinquish dependence on Google Maps.Many of us already have seen the distinctive Google mapping cars rolling down the street, with their spinning 360-degree video towers on their roofs. But drivers and pedestrians alike will soon see that Uber is doing the same thing with its own fleet of geo-mapping vehicles. The San Francisco-based ride-hailing service wants to move into its own lane, so to speak, and relinquish dependence on Google Maps for geo-positioning of its member vehicles. Thus Uber is allocating a whopping $500 million into the global mapping project that becomes Phase 1 of its strategy to pave the way for driverless cars. Uber wants to be the first such company to have driverless vehicles pick up customers and transport them to their destinations, using the new-generation geo-mapping system—which it intends to be a lot more accurate than Google's.
Google, Uber Once Were PartnersIn fact, Google was an early investor in Uber, but the two companies have avoided working closely together and are now developing competing technologies for driverless cars.
In 2015, Uber hired away from Google one of the world's leading digital mapping experts, Brian McClendon, who had run Google Maps and helped create Google Earth. Now McClendon is piloting the huge map project.