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September 19, 2016updated 03 Oct 2016 3:50pm

Uber starts mapping UK city streets for best pick-up and drop-off points

In plans to create its own map, Uber sends out its mapping cars to collect street views.

By Hannah Williams

Uber has deployed a fleet of mapping cars to collect street maps of the UK cities it operates in, starting with London.

The cars are to drive around London and record all visual information on its streets.

The company said that although its existing maps were a good starting point, there is hope to identify the best pick-up and drop-off points with its own images.

Uber have said it may “incidentally” collect personal information, such as individual photos, licence plates and so on, but no personal data will be shared online.

Its terms however, state that it may share mapping data with numerous third parties, which include vendors, consultants, marketing partners and law enforcement agencies.

In a blog post, it said: “Our efforts are similar to what companies including Apple and TomTom are already doing around the world.”

The firm has been carrying out mapping in US since 2015, and shares plans to extend its mapping cars to other UK cities, including Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds.

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New additions to the firm include former head of Google Maps Brian McClendon, who is now a vice president at Uber. Former Apple Maps and Tesla Maps engineer Bill Chen was also recently hired.

23 mapping-related jobs are currently advertised on the company’s website.

The Uber maps service will also help in its mission to enter the driverless car market.

uber map

In an interview with BBC, Kate Bevan, technology writer and broadcaster said:

“Uber is in the race to get driverless cars on the road first. Thus far, they’ve relied on Google maps, but they’re now in competition with Google to own driverless cars, so it makes sense for them to disentangle from Google.

Also, with their own maps, they’ll own all of the data on them: Uber, like Google, is as much a data company as a service provider.

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