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Uber partners with DigitalGlobe for global satellite imagery


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.

Related read: Now get a Uber cab from other apps with ride info configured

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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.

Related reads:
BMTC to share realtime bus data with private companies: Report
India’s own navigation system goes live with IRNSS-1G launch
Uber completes 2 billion global rides in 6 years; 5.5M rides daily
What info Uber discloses to US regulatory & law enforcement agencies
Govt to use drones for agricultural mapping, crop and insurance assessment

Our location based services and maps coverage.

Image Credit: Johan Larsson under CC BY 2.0

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Written By

I'm a MediaNama alumna from 2015-16 (remember TinyOwl?) now back to cover e-services like food and grocery delivery, app based transport and policies, platforms and media in India.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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