Uber’s New Camera-Equipped Mapping Vehicles Spotted In Kentucky

20 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Photos And Details Of Uber’s Map-Making Car.

After an image appeared on Facebook of an Uber car rigged up with some exotic sensing equipment, the on-demand taxi company admitted to TechCrunch that it’s running a fleet of mapping vehicles, and even released the picture above. After acquiring Microsoft’s mapping technology and roughly 100 Bing engineers earlier this year, Uber has dispatched its own fleet of crewed vehicles in an attempt to improve upon its own maps back end.Earlier today, we did mention about how the ridesharing service known as Uber which has irked its fair share of taxi drivers all over the world has teamed up with the company behind the ultimate driving machine, BMW, to promote the all new 7 Series.On Monday, BuzzFeed originally reported an Uber driver recently took a photo of a car driving around Florence, Kentucky with imaging technology attached to it.

The cars are essentially rebranded versions of the Bing mapping cars that Microsoft had on the road before deciding it no longer wanted to collect its own map data. Well, this certainly goes to show how Uber is expanding its corporate presence and portfolio across various platforms, and this time around we have word that Uber has started to deploy its very own mapping vehicles.

With Google, Apple, and vehicle manufacturers seeking to design a new standard for the auto industry in the form of autonomous cars, Uber is acting now to ensure its service isn’t rendered obsolete. When asked about an image dug up from a private Uber driver Facebook group by TechCrunch reader Dave Craige (seen below), Uber admitted that this is a mapping vehicle piloted by a human driver, like a Google Street View car, not a self-driving car prototype.

It has been speculated that these mapping vehicles will be the same ones that belonged to Microsoft in the past, where those were used to pick up street data. The taxi service has invested in technology to develop its own self-driving vehicles and other services that require a decent map software of its own.

Uber has been building their self-driving car in Pittsburgh using engineering talent from the robotics center at Carnegie Mellon University, and the company is leasing a 53,000-square-foot facility to carry out their work. “This vehicle is part of our early research efforts regarding mapping, safety and autonomy systems,” an Uber spokesperson told The Verge at the time a mapping car was seen in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Uber currently relies on a mix of Google Maps data and its own routing algorithms, but the spokesperson suggested that the new data could make it easier for drivers to avoid congested streets and intersections. The image data being captured won’t (yet) replace the existing maps interface that Uber’s drivers are familiar with, which blends Google Maps with “a proprietary routing algorithm” according to BuzzFeed News. Uber’s rebranded cars are no different from what Google has with their StreetView rides, where they all boast of a 3D spherical camera that can shoot everything around it.

After poaching 40 engineers and leaving Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics division in shambles, Uber had the start of a team necessary to begin the work needed to catch up to its rivals. The company acquired Bing mapping assets and 100 workers from Microsoft in June, but is using proprietary technology in the mapping vehicles, BuzzFeed noted. As to whether all of these will also have something to do with Uber’s autonomous car project, that remains to be seen, but surely we are unable to rule that out, right? The company also bid on Nokia’s Here maps service, but the assets were eventually sold to a group of German car manufacturers, which included Audi, BMW Group, and Mercedes-Benz. CEO Travis Kalanick has openly expressed interest in autonomous cars, which could result in a future where customers never interact with a human during rides.

The data they collect is being used to improve the Uber app’s route suggestions and estimated time of arrival predictions. “This is an Uber mapping car. Despite its recent advancements into the world of autonomous vehicles, Uber has a long path ahead of it if it intends to become a serious contender in the future. Knowing exactly how long it takes to get from one point to another is critical for Uber as it tries to build out complex algorithms for making carpooling efficient. With Google’s already massive lead, Uber needs to find a way to make a comparable experience happen with its own service, once it replaces all of its drivers with driverless vehicles.

Knowing that a certain alleyway is impassable or that an intersection includes restrictions like ‘no left turns’ will let it better allocate cars to carpoolers, or just give riders a better idea of when to be ready.

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