In an apparent effort to lessen its reliance on Google Maps, rideshare company Uber will be "doubling down on our investment in mapping." That amounts to pumping $500 million into an "ambitious global mapping project," the Financial Times reports. Uber has already unleashed mapping vehicles in the US and Mexico, and the effort will expand to other countries in the future. Heading up the project is Brian McClendon, who once ran Google Maps. "Accurate maps are at the heart of our service and the backbone of our business," McClendon says in a blog post. Existing maps contain information irrelevant to Uber, such as oceans, he says, and Uber wants to know more about traffic patterns and pick-up and drop-off locations.
"Moreover," McClendon adds, "we need to be able to provide a seamless experience in parts of the world where there aren’t detailed maps—or street signs." In developing countries, Uber drivers often have to call passengers to get a pickup location, per the Times. Google invested in Uber early on. But, PC Magazine notes, the companies "[seem] headed for a great business clash," as they both explore driverless car technology. Also, Google is reportedly started to charge more to Use Google Maps. According to PC, Uber has started a partnership with DigitalGlobe, which owns satellites so powerful they can discern an object that is just one foot by one foot in size. (Read more Uber stories.)