Uber is betting big on digital mapping, and it could be spending a lot of money to do it. The Financial Times reports that Uber is investing $500 million in its own efforts to reduce its reliance on Google Maps and other similar services.
The report follows a blog post last week from Uber’s advanced technologies chief Brian McClendon, who openly discussed the company’s mapping ambitions. Uber already has mapping cars operating across the U.S. and plans to expand to Mexico this summer. McClendon added that other countries won’t be far behind.
McClendon notes that services like Google Maps are a “good starting point,” but often lack information the company needs. That includes traffic data to help determine the best pickup and drop-off points, along with detailed maps for more rural areas without street signs. Down the road, Uber could also use the same map data to power self-driving cars.
Uber won’t confirm the alleged $500 million figure, but it’s clearly putting a ton of focus on digital mapping moving forward. That means competing with Google, Apple and other tech giants with an interest in mapping as the entire industry races to roll out self-driving cars.