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Apple Is the Latest Tech Giant Reportedly Developing Its Own Drone Fleet

02 December 2016
Apple Is the Latest Tech Giant Reportedly Developing Its Own Drone Fleet

Bloomberg sources Apple (AAPL +0.2%) as developing a team of data-collection and robotics professionals to deploy drones in an effort to improve its mapping capabilities. Using drones to track the changes in the landscape would produce faster results than using cars fitted with cameras and sensors, which is how the company now updates its service.

The new Maps platform will offer the ability to view inside buildings and have improved vehicle navigation features. The people asked not to be identified talking about private projects. The company wasn't immediately available to comment on its activity.

Apple has been trailing Google Maps ever since it replaced Mountain View's long-trusted app in iOS 6 with a largely derided homebrewed option. The data collected by drones would be used to quickly update Apple Maps so it stays up to date with such changes in traffic conditions.

"There's a huge data-quality issue there", Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, told Fast Company earlier this year. Similar indoor initiatives have already been underway at rival Google Maps.

According to today's reports Apple filed for permission to fly drones for commercial purposes over a year ago. Apple Maps already offers extensive indoor directions for public transit centers (so, if you're taking the subway in NY, you know which entrance and exit to use to get to most easily get to your destination). And that team will be based in Seattle, according to a report from Bloomberg. Drones must stay within eyesight of the pilots at all times. Back in March, when exemptions were required to commercially operate drones, Apple was granted approval from the FAA to "operate an unmanned aircraft system to conduct data collection, photography, and videography". Either way, Apple's rumored Maps upgrades are significant, and a sign that Tim Cook and company are really betting big on services-even ones that don't contribute outright to the company's bottom line. Apple committed to these guidelines, according to the FAA documents.

Amazon has drones preparing to deliver our groceries.