Since it first hit the scene, Uber has relied on Google Maps to get its drivers to folks who need a ride, but that may not be the case forever. A new report from unnamed sources speaking to The Financial Times say that Uber is planning to drop a cool $500 million on mapping the world as part of an initiative to focus on long-term growth. With mapping cars already on the road in the US and Mexico, Uber rolling out its self-made maps could be a reality sooner rather than later, too.
Uber has already discussed its mapping initiative, but what was kept secret was the amount of money it planned to pump into the project. Make no mistake – $500 million isn’t exactly a small amount, and it could help improve its service in areas where Google Maps isn’t quite as fleshed out. There’s also speculation that Uber wants to distance itself from Google as the two may one day become competitors in the realm of self-driving technologies.
Any direct competition between the two could still be years off, though, and in the short-term, this seems to be more about developing maps that are tailored to Uber’s service. With such a mapping project, Uber could potentially do things like pinpoint pick up and drop off locations, making the experience more seamless for drivers and riders alike. Developing its own maps could help in the long run from a financial standpoint as well, since Uber would no longer be subject to fluctuating Google Maps usage fees.
Even though Uber is currently focused on mapping the US and Mexico, the company says it has plans to move into other countries soon. Assuming the $500 million figure turns out to be true, that amount of money would allow Uber to hit the ground running with this mapping initiative, getting countries around the world mapped with relative speed. When Uber would ditch Google Maps in favor of its own in-house programs is anyone’s guess, however, so stay tuned.
SOURCE: The Financial Times