Uber “Doubling down” its Investment in Mapping

uber.pngUber is increasing its investment in mapping in order to match its customers with the closest driver; take the fastest path to the customer’s destination; and give more accurate estimated times of arrival.

Uber’s mapping operations are led by Brian McClendon, who was previously head of Google Maps for over a decade. In a blog post, McClendon concedes that: “Uber wouldn’t exist if comprehensive interactive digital maps hadn’t been created first”, and goes on to explain that currently, Uber uses a mix of mapping technologies, including its own, to provide the underlying infrastructure for its apps.

But he adds that some of the information on existing maps, such as ocean topography, is irrelevant to Uber and that there are other things it needs to know a lot more about, such as traffic patterns and precise pickup and drop-off locations. He adds that Uber also needs to be able to provide a seamless experience in parts of the world where there aren’t detailed maps or street signs.

Last year, the company put mapping cars on the road in the US, and this summer, they will hit the road in Mexico, with other countries (literally) on the roadmap.

“The ongoing need for maps tailored to the Uber experience is why we’re doubling down on our investment in mapping” McClendon says in the post. While he does not say how much Uber is investing in the mapping project, some estimates have put the figure at $500m (£378m).