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Apple may be building a drone fleet to help improve its maps

02 December 2016
Apple may be building a drone fleet to help improve its maps

When it launched in 2012, Apple's Maps app was widely ridiculed because it contained a multitude of factual and graphical errors that made it untrustworthy and, in some case, dangerous. Reports from Bloomberg News say that Apple has been constructing a team of experts on robotics and analyzing data.

As for Apple Maps, a new report claims that it's about to make significant new steps toward overtaking, or at least catching up with, Google Maps. In addition, the fleet will also enable them to incorporate information from things like street signs and roadworks into Apple Maps.

Apple Maps now packs a slew of great features that prove it's come a long way since its botched launch in 2012 and a year ago it even managed to become more popular than Google Maps among iOS users.

Apple confirmed the acquisition with Bloomberg but did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

Drone capture could prove important to Apple AAPL as it works to improve its Maps application running on iOS and macOS devices.

This team, with the use of drones, will be able to update map information much faster than Apple is now able to.

According to a Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) document seen by Motherboard, Apple actually applied for a drone flight exemption on September 21 2015, asking for permission to fly drones for commercial purposes.

Apple, like Google and Microsoft's Bing, now uses cars equipped with cameras and sensors to travel and record mapping data. In its latest effort to outdo its main competitor Google Maps, Apple is reportedly making use of drones to populate its map data more efficiently and effectively than can its more traditional crew of minivans.

Google Maps already feature indoor maps and adding such an option to Apple Maps would level the playing field, allowing Apple to better compete against its archrival. Complaints about inaccuracy dogged the Apple Maps rollout, but since then these problems have been corrected.

Those restrictions seem pretty tight, but Apple may still have enough leeway there to accomplish what they want to with their drones. To do so, the company is taking some interesting measures.

Apple is also said to be working on in-car navigation updates that will include "better guidance" when changing lanes en route to a destination. These features are not due to premiere until next year.