Apple is reportedly planning to use its very own fleet of drones along with indoor navigation tech to improve its Apple Maps service and provide competition to Google Maps.
The iPhone maker is gathering a team of robotics and data-collection experts, who will make use of these drones to capture and update map information faster than what its current technology (cameras and minivans) does. These drones will be further used to examine street signs, and monitor road updates like ongoing construction. This data will then be examined by the Apple Maps team who will update the info regularly on the app used by iOS users.
Besides the regular navigation routes that mostly show exterior imagery on satellite view, the ongoing project will look to give user views inside buildings/structures using indoor navigation technology. Apple acquired startup Indoor.io last year to bring this technology to the market.
Although the current drone rules in the US restrict commercial drones from flying over people and buildings, the company filed for an exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last year. According to Bloomberg, on 22 March 2016, the FAA granted Apple the approval to "operate an unmanned aircraft system to conduct data collection, photography, and videography,"
The company will be able to operate in countries where there are few or no restrictions on commercial drones. The company is expected to use a range of drones sold by companies like SZ DJI Technology Co and Aibotix GmbH.
Apple's Maps introduced in 2012 has been trying to woo iOS users to switch from Google Maps, the most widely used commercial navigation platform. However, blunders like a grocery store being marked as a hospital and incorrect airport addresses affected its credibility. It now says it has the technology that it lacked earlier to quickly absorb data from different sources to evaluate and change these maps regularly.