Apple to use drones, indoor navigation data to improve Maps in 2017

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Apple is preparing to use drones, indoor mapping, and better car navigation to improve its Maps apps for iOS and macOS, a report said on Thursday.




On March 22, Apple secured an exemption from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones from DJI, Aibotix and others for commercial purposes, specifically "data collection, photography, and videography," according to Bloomberg. The company has since committed to official commercial drone guidelines introduced in August.

The drones will be used to capture and update map data faster than Apple's current minivan fleet is capable of, one of several sources said. This includes changes to roads, street signs, and construction.

To boost these efforts, the company is reportedly hiring robotics and data collection experts, including at least one person from Amazon's Prime Air drone delivery project. The new Apple team is said to be gathering in Seattle, where Amazon is based.

The indoor mapping technology, meanwhile, should help people find their way through large-scale public areas like airports and museums. This is why Apple bought startup Indoor.io last year, one source said. Giving the interference buildings can cause, indoor navigation will likely depend on a mix of GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and even pressure sensors.

In terms of car navigation, the only mentioned upgrade so far includes better guidance when changing lanes.

Both indoor navigation and improved lane assistance are being planned for launch next year, but could theoretically be held back.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,030member
    OT: I wonder when their street-level view LiDAR will be released.
    edited December 2016 caliirelandStrangeDayscornchip
  • Reply 2 of 21
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,799member
    Apple Maps works pretty well in the US but needs a lot of work in many less industrialized countries. I am on vacation in the Caribbean and Maps shows roads that veer off into the ocean and is also missing many streets. Almost zero landmarks or points of interest. One interesting note is that Maps shows a sand bar off shore as actual terra firma. I suppose it could be considered land at an extreme low tide but it probably shouldn't be shown on the map as an island.
    edited December 2016 caliRoger_Fingasireland
  • Reply 3 of 21
    Itvolcan said:
    Apple Maps works pretty well in the US but needs a lot of work in many less industrialized countries. I am on vacation in the Caribbean and Maps shows roads that veer off into the ocean and is also missing many streets. Almost zero landmarks or points of interest. One interesting note is that Maps shows a sand bar off shore as actual terra firma. I suppose it could be considered land at an extreme low tide but it probably shouldn't be shown on the map as an island.
    It's fairly good in the UK now too. It's now my default map app. Google and Tom Tom don't get a look in any more.
    cali
  • Reply 4 of 21
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,442member
    This sounds pretty cool. 

    I'll score this as something that Jony Ive probably has nothing to do with. 
  • Reply 5 of 21
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,030member
    blastdoor said:
    This sounds pretty cool. 

    I'll score this as something that Jony Ive probably has nothing to do with. 
    They've had their hands in "indoor mapping" for a long time. WiFiSlam is one such company they acquired years ago.
    cali
  • Reply 6 of 21
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,175member
    volcan said:
    Apple Maps works pretty well in the US but needs a lot of work in many less industrialized countries. I am on vacation in the Caribbean and Maps shows roads that veer off into the ocean and is also missing many streets. Almost zero landmarks or points of interest. One interesting note is that Maps shows a sand bar off shore as actual terra firma. I suppose it could be considered land at an extreme low tide but it probably shouldn't be shown on the map as an island.
    Easy solution...just stay in the US! /s
  • Reply 7 of 21
    Real time re-routing around traffic is a must in order for me to even begin to think about switching from Waze. 
  • Reply 8 of 21
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,276member
    I like Apple Maps. The UI is way better than Google Maps. My issue is the lack of POI information. Lots of restaurants and shops near me aren't even on Apple Maps. There needs to be an option just to search the area you are looking at on the map. I typed in the name of a Mexican restaurant down the street from me and it pulls up some restaurant in South America. 
    calientropys
  • Reply 9 of 21
    Real time re-routing around traffic is a must in order for me to even begin to think about switching from Waze. 
    I guess you haven't tried Apple Maps in a while. They have this feature but Apple Maps is much less inclined to change your route than Waze. 
    I switch back and forth between the two apps. I dense urban environments Waze is prone to take too many side roads with traffic lights. Apple Maps is less likely to change your route but when it does, it will stick to more major roads. 
  • Reply 10 of 21
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,276member
    Real time re-routing around traffic is a must in order for me to even begin to think about switching from Waze. 
    I guess you haven't tried Apple Maps in a while. They have this feature but Apple Maps is much less inclined to change your route than Waze. 
    I switch back and forth between the two apps. I dense urban environments Waze is prone to take too many side roads with traffic lights. Apple Maps is less likely to change your route but when it does, it will stick to more major roads. 
    I've noticed that with Waze. Growing up in Southern California, it's pretty pointless to take surface streets trying to avoid freeway traffic. 
  • Reply 11 of 21
    That's great...  Maybe in couple hundred years from now this will start showing up in Canada.  I live in a major City and still no 3D maps.  At the rate they are adding 3D cities globally, it will take several life times before they have the world covered, never mind their next gen endeavour of mapping transit.  Well at least my great great great grand children will get some indoor maps.

    Really Apple.  Instead of giving all this money to us shareholders every quarter, can you spend some money to ramp up map updates to acceptable levels. If Google can do it, Why can't Apple.  I gave them some slack when they first came out, but its now been years that they had time to get their **** together.   This is the inherent problem with Tim's regime.   Instead of striving to be the best,  Slow moving, get by mediocrity will do.

    I completely understand that some people think Apple Maps is great.  Consider yourself lucky that your city was included in the chosen few but for the rest of the world, Apple Maps is equivolent to google maps of 10 years ago.
  • Reply 12 of 21
    I wonder if Apple will work with one of the crowdsourced drone data gathering companies? This would allow anyone with a DJI drone to participate in the map data gathering and even receive a small compensation. Apple sells the necessary DJI Phantom 4 drones in the Apple Store. You would need a commercial FAA drone license but these are easy to get now.
    cali
  • Reply 13 of 21
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,771member
    altivec88 said:
    That's great...  Maybe in couple hundred years from now this will start showing up in Canada.  I live in a major City and still no 3D maps.
    You're really not missing much.  It's a fun feature for a minute but has very little practical use, certainly when compared to street level imagery.
    entropys
  • Reply 14 of 21
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    grangerfx said:
    I wonder if Apple will work with one of the crowdsourced drone data gathering companies? This would allow anyone with a DJI drone to participate in the map data gathering and even receive a small compensation. Apple sells the necessary DJI Phantom 4 drones in the Apple Store. You would need a commercial FAA drone license but these are easy to get now.
     Kind of scary. Imagine a world where drones are as common as birds? 
  • Reply 15 of 21
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,120member
    Apple Maps is definitely a lot better than than it was. I think that the pace of improvement is slower than it could be, probably a result of its decision to not broadcast all its product development to the world until it has as viable product. Look at the stories of those Apple camera vans cruising about. In the US only it seems, whereas the high profile google cam vehicles are seen everywhere, all the time.  

    Google makes a song and dance about its future products, attracting a lot of press, only to have quite a few of them publicly crash and burn. Apple is secretive, you hardly hear much if anything about r&d projects that don't work out, but things roll out more slowly because of the secretiveness. Pick your poison.
    daven
  • Reply 16 of 21
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,597member
    Soli said:
    OT: I wonder when their street-level view LiDAR will be released.
    If this is what the mystery Apple vans were a year or two ago, I wonder the same. 
  • Reply 17 of 21
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,597member
    crowley said:
    altivec88 said:
    That's great...  Maybe in couple hundred years from now this will start showing up in Canada.  I live in a major City and still no 3D maps.
    You're really not missing much.  It's a fun feature for a minute but has very little practical use, certainly when compared to street level imagery.
    I use 3D maps weekly. It gives me a deeper impression of the space I'm looking up, which adds value for me. 
  • Reply 18 of 21
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,030member
    Soli said:
    OT: I wonder when their street-level view LiDAR will be released.
    If this is what the mystery Apple vans were a year or two ago, I wonder the same. 
    There's definitely an "if" factor. I think that's most likely, but I had said then that they might just be testing or mapping for autonomous vehicles, but I do think that's much less likely than using their FlyOver tech to outdo Google's Street View.
  • Reply 19 of 21
    I have iPhone 7Plus, the apple maps is very slow. Don't know why  :/
  • Reply 20 of 21
    mnbob1mnbob1 Posts: 268member
    Real time re-routing around traffic is a must in order for me to even begin to think about switching from Waze. 
    You need to use the Apple Maps app when it gets a major update. This feature is included in the latest version. When I started using the beta versions of it it worked very similar to Waze and attemptsed to send me to side streets that I was familiar with and knew weren't going to make my time faster because of traffic lights. The release version is more conservative and I think has been more useful. Give it a try before you pass judgement and always check before assuming that Apple isn't adding new features. 
    Soli
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