Uber Map-Making Cars Have Been on the Road for Months
Photos of Uber cars equipped with cameras for mapping recently surfaced and the company has confirmed that they are working on improving the technology acquired as a part of the Microsoft Maps business. These aren't some kind of autonomous car prototypes, but are driven by human drivers. According to TechCrunch, the ride-sharing company hopes to improve its maps, driving routes, and ETAs by having updated maps at its disposal. The cars have already been on the roads for a few months. RELATED: 7 Car Museums You Can Visit on Google Maps
That's not to say that they aren't working on autonomous cars, just that it's a separate project. Uber has cars in Pittsburgh and Arizona as a part of its self-driving cars program. There was confusion about what looked like self-driving Uber prototypes collecting image data in Pittsburgh, but it's definitely separate from the mapping project.
Maps are readily available, but the accuracy of those maps is huge for Uber. The decision to use the service often depends on how close the nearest car is, so giving accurate arrival times based on the best possible route is essential. If it takes too long, people are going to choose another service. The same thing happens if the times are inaccurate and leave customers waiting. Uber's efforts to use improved mapping should make customers and drivers happier.
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Images: Randy Edmonds/Alana Pratt Thomas