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Apple Said to Fly Drones to Improve Maps Data and Catch Google

02 December 2016
Apple Said to Fly Drones to Improve Maps Data and Catch Google

Additionally, Apple is working on new features for Maps that would let users view inside buildings and improve auto navigation. Apple declined to provide comment to Bloomberg on the new initiatives. By adding third party services and content, improving data accuracy and making UI changes the company may be able to help close the gap. Apple Maps is not available on mobile devices powered by Google's Android platform, and those far outnumber Apple devices. The report notes that an application filed with the Federal Aviation Administration late past year stated that Apple planned to use drones from manufacturers such as DJI and Aibotix.

Apple is reportedly using drones to help support its mapping efforts.

According to Bloomberg, the FAA granted approval to Apple on March 22 of this year. Drones must stay within eyesight of the pilots at all times. And the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has already granted permission for it to do so, though new laws on commercial drone usage may force it to downgrade some expectations.

Apple's fleet of mapping vehicles have done a great job in collecting on-the-ground data, but the mapping service still has a way to go if it wants to top Google Maps. There are several caveats: drones must be flown by professionals who remain within the line of sight, flying is mostly limited to daylight hours, and the drones aren't supposed to do any flying over people or buildings.

Amazon has drones preparing to deliver our groceries. The Apple team is being assembled in Seattle, the same city as Amazon's headquarters, the person said. Apple confirmed the purchase, but declined to say why it did the deal.

Apple has acquired two firms with indoor mapping capability since 2013.

Indoor location tracking is achieved via a combination of technologies inside the latest iPhones, including pressure sensors, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. One feature will offer better guidance for changing lanes while driving, Bloomberg said. All features are planned to be released somewhere in 2017, however nothing is now confirmed.