You might remember that in June Uber bought from Microsoft Bing Maps department responsible for capturing StreetView like images around the world. The deal included couple of dozen of mapping cars, and 100 engineers to join Uber. After 4 months the first vans have hit the roads in the US.
Uber says that it wants to use this technology to better estimate arrival time of its cars and enhance routing technology in the driver app. Frankly speaking I don’t buy this explanation. For that sort of improvements you need accurate traffic information rather than mapping cars.
Mapping cars are used solely to create a highly precise maps like those needed for autonomous cars. Especially if the cars are equipped not only with 360 cameras but also with Velodyne Lidar laser on the rooftop.
It is clear that Uber needs high quality maps for its autonomous driving pursuits. This is why the company was bidding to acquire HERE which has been finally bought by the consortium of German car makers.
Last week Telsa joined the race for autonomous cars mapping as well.
Truly interesting times.