Apple Drones: Apple aims to catch up with mapping services major Google and is on the way to improve its own mapping services. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) of the United States has given its approval to tech giant Apple to use its own drones for data collection and overhead imagery. A new indoor mapping system to improve Apple’s own Maps services has also been started, with Apple acquiring Indoor.io.

Apple Drone
The Apple Drone; this particular model is the ‘Phantom’. Image Courtesy Apple.

Currently, Apple uses minivans and a fleet of other medium vehicles, equipped with cameras and sensors to update ‘Maps’ information. Apple drones would allow the company to do the entire process much faster, with aerial surveillance to analyse street signs, monitor construction areas, and keep a close eye on changes in roads and traffic all in real time. Apple aims to compete with market leader Google in creating and maintaining real-time mapping data.

Apple is also developing new features for ‘Maps’, including views inside buildings and indoor constructions and improvements to its proprietary car navigation services. This move comes five years after Google Maps launched on the Apple iPhone. Apple’s own mapping app was introduced in 2012 with glaring errors like a grocery store marked as a hospital and incorrect airport addresses. Apple had till now lacked the technology needed to quickly take in data to evaluate and change the digital maps, all in real time. The Apple Drones could change that. Collecting accurate data is the most important part of digital map building, for obvious reasons, and Apple’s latest thing could help in that aspect too. Check Also Flex Seal

In March this year, the FAA gave permission to Apple to fly its own fleet of Apple Drones, and operate unmanned aircraft systems to conduct data collection, photography, and videography. Apple is also acquiring people with experience on the Prime Air division of Amazon to come and work on this new project. Incidentally, the US administration had announced in October its plans to promote the integration of drones into the daily lives of consumers and businesses across the country. Commercial drones could generate more than $82 billion for the US economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years, reports suggest.

Apple is also developing an indoor mapping system that would allow users to navigate airports and other buildings with high footfalls like museums using iPhones. In order to aide the Apple Drones, Apple acquired startup Indoor.io in 2015 to help bring its indoor mapping project to fruition, besides acquiring WiFiSlam in 2013, another startup with indoor navigation expertise. Indoor location tracking in real time is said to be achieved via technologies already present inside the latest iPhones, besides pressure sensors, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

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