Online cab aggregator Uber has made a multi-year partnership with DigitalGlobe, an American space imagery and geospatial content company, to get high resolution satellite imagery in order to “improve the experience for riders and drivers” globally. For this, Uber will use DigitalGlobe’s sensors to access imagery and location ‘intelligence’.
DigitalGlobe also operates civilian remote sensing spacecraft. Uber says that this partnership will help it improve pick up and drop locations. An Atlantic report states that DigitalGlobe’s satellites can detect pixels 30 cms across to resolve street markings. Check out a detailed technical breakdown of Uber’s GPS engineering here.
Uber’s previous mapping partnerships:
– In March 2015, Uber bought deCarta, a mapping, navigation and local search to provide better arrival ETAs, carpooling routes and maps related enhancements.
– Two months after this, Uber bought a part of Microsoft’s Bing Maps tech and absorbed some of its employees to provide further detailed map data.
– In October 2015, Uber deployed its own vehicles for mapping in the US. It is unclear as to who can deploy mapping vehicles around the US other than registered mapping companies.
– In November 2015, Uber struck a multi year deal with Dutch mapping company TomTom to provide maps and traffic data across 300 global cities to Uber.
Google Maps Uber integration:
In February 2015, Uber was integrated into Google Maps in India, after first being rolled out in the US in May 2014. Uber previously used Google Maps in its app, however, it could have other mapping sources as well which are not identified. Readers should note that the integration with Google Maps is more of a “get a Uber cab” from Google Maps one rather than one which improves accuracy of pick up and drop locations. However, since Google Maps is a popular service, we imagine that users would benefit from this service as finding a pick up point in Maps is way easier than finding one on say, Apple Maps (oh the horror). Note that in June 2015, Google added a new feature to Google Now called Location Aware Search, that detected a user’s location and answered questions based on that data.
Ola’s mapping tie ups:
Last November, Uber’s Indian competitor Ola acquired Geotagg, a company which provided transport solutions across web, mobile and kiosks, especially for public transportation, for strengthenings its intra city bus shuttle service. In the same month, it partnered with MapmyIndia to acquire a multi-year license for MapmyIndia’s mapping data and get get map updates from the latter.
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