The report’s sources claim Apple is building a new team of robotics and data-collection experts with the directive to use drones to capture and update map information. Up to now, Maps data has been collected by a fleet of street-bound cars, so taking to the sky would immediately expand the effort.
The drones would be especially helpful for up-to-the-minute road monitoring for accurate traffic information, an area where Apple Maps has lagged behind Google Maps. The data collected will be sent to Apple teams, which will be tasked with updating the app for the highest level of accuracy possible. According to Bloomberg‘s sources, at least one person from Amazon’s Prime Air division has been brought in for the work.
But do we really want a bunch of flying Apple cameras patrolling the skies across the country? The company will have to abide by the Federal Aviation Administration’s commercial drone-use regulations, which Apple committed to when they were rolled out back in August.
Those regulations might make the drone initiative in cities near impossible, since flying over people and buildings are two of its strongest prohibitions. But in countries where there aren’t commercial restrictions, Apple can fly all it wants.
Along with the drones, Bloomberg‘s sources said that Apple is also developing new Maps features for use indoors and for its in-car navigation service. In a move that went largely under the radar last year, Apple acquired Finnish startup Indoor.io, a deal now confirmed.
That purchase, along with the more well-known acquisition of WiFiSlam (whose tech looked to be behind a mysterious mapping app that popped up last year) point to improved indoor navigation on Apple Maps.
In the future, Apple Maps users might be in for a new indoor mapping view for high-traffic buildings (think airports and museums).