Apple announced plans to start using drones to improve the accuracy of Apple Maps.
The app, which has long trailed behind Google Maps since it launched in 2012, said that it will start using drones to “examine street signs, track changes to roads and monitor if areas are under construction,” according to Bloomberg.
Apple hopes that data from the drones will help them keep Maps not only accurate but able to provide up-to-the-minute information. Currently Maps data, although it is updated every day, is limited. The company has been using minivans to collect data, but unlike Google’s infamous Streetview cars, Apple’s cars were limited to a few test locations.
Although drones aren’t necessarily a cure-all answer for Apple Maps. Current regulations keep drones from flying over people and buildings in the U.S., which could significantly hamper Apple’s reach for now. However, in countries without drone regulations, Apple should be able to gather very accurate and timely data from their drones.
Drone flying is restricted to daylight hours and can only be operated by licensed pilots. Drones must stay within eyesight of the pilots at all times. Apple is said to be assembling a drone team to operate the new mapping machines.
Apple Maps will also start introducing new features, such as views and directions inside of large buildings like museums or airports. The company is also investigating a tool that would make car navigation better, including better guidance for lane-switching. These features are not due to premiere until next year.
Apple was late to the game when it launched Maps. Google had launched their maps app on iOS five years earlier and Apple’s version was plagued by issues, including incorrect addresses and marking a grocery store as a hospital.