Uber is a company that has always prided itself on being forward thinking and planing their buisness model on times very far in the future. Today is no different. “The ongoing need for maps tailored to the Uber experience is why we’re doubling down on our investment in mapping,” said VP Brian McClendon, who heads up advanced technologies and former vice president of Google Maps, so to say the man has his credentials in order is an understatement.
He goes on to say that, “We are declining to comment on the $500 million number,” when asked about their investment a kind of mapping initiative.So basically we can understand this in terms of saying that for a lack of a better work that, “existing maps are a good starting point, but some information isn’t that relevant to Uber, like ocean topography. There are others things we need to know a lot more about like traffic patterns and precise pickup and dropoff locations.”
In many ways this is the most sensible investment they can make for their company going forward considering their investments in autonomous driving. The reason being is that while they are going to have the opportunity to not catch up to their competitor Lyft who is partnering up with GM in terms of vehicle making ability, what they are going to possibly have the leg up in is in their mapping capabilities. When it comes to the mapping of their cars and how they move about on the earth what we can say is that it is the largest variable in terms of making sure the cars are able to get to a desired location in a timely fashion. Essentially, it could be the make or break variable when it comes to who is the big dog in this arena, will it be Lyft with their superior vehicles and track record, or Uber the originals on the market who are going the ultimate mapping route… Literally.
“If anything, they’re a little late with this. They’ve had the advantage of all these vehicles wandering around all these cities around the world so it only makes sense to start collecting data from those vehicles.”
Thus, “when you’re going to get rid of the driver entirely, you’re going to need a map, it looks like they’ve determined it’s in their interest to creat their own maps.”
This all sounds good and sweet but lets not forget that it is still very much uncharted waters for them….Literally. If they are not careful they could fall into a problem. “McGregor is basically saying in his own words that, “Companies that have that data are going to want to leverage it more and more, Uber is thinking the data from its drivers is something valuable to have as the industry changes.” So win loose or draw by gathering this data Uber is still making something that is really valuable and if not usable in their marketable way it could be sold to another company down the line and at the very least could have an application for safety of our roads and highways.