With a subtle announcement on its website, Apple has confirmed that it’s sending cars out on to the streets of the U.S., UK and Ireland in order to acquire data—including images—that will be used to improve its Maps service.
On a new page, Apple writes that it’s “driving vehicles around the world to collect data which will be used to improve Apple Maps.” It goes on to explain that “[s]ome of this data will be published in future Apple Maps update.” The company says that between 15th and 30th June, its cars will be visiting spots across the U.S., UK and Ireland (check out a full list below).
Apple points out that it is “committed to protecting... privacy while collecting this data, explaining that it will “blur faces and license plates on collected images prior to publication.” That statement clearly indicates that its cars will be loaded with cameras to acquire images a la Google’s StreetView.
What isn’t made clear is if any other data acquisitions systems—say, radar or laser scanners—are aboard. It’s those kinds of scans that could help Apple build incredibly detailed and nuanced maps of city streets, the like of which are used by Google and others right now to help self-driving cars navigate. There’s no word on if that’s something Apple is doing.
But if not—if Apple is merely photographing city streets—it’s a very late catch-up with Google, which began rolling out StreetView all the way back in 2006. Still, tardiness with maps isn’t unexpected from Apple, which only added public tranist directions to its Maps services this week.
Apple is currently driving its cars in the following regions:
Alameda (Oakland), Los Angeles (Los Angeles)
Orange County (Orlando)
St. Louis (St. Louis)
New York (New York City)
Dallas (Dallas), Tarrant (Fort Worth)
Salt Lake (Salt Lake City)
Essex (Brentwood, Epping Forest), Hertfordshire (Broxbourne, Dacorum, Hertsmere, St Albans, Three Rivers, Watford, Welwyn Hatfield)
Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Camden, City of London, City of Westminster, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth
Kent (Dartford, Sevenoaks), Surrey (Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell, Spelthorne)
Birmingham (Sutton Coldfield, Perry Barr, Erdington, Ladywood, Hodge Hill, Yardley, Edgbaston, Hall Green, Selly Oak, Northfield), Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Staffordshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Worcestershire
Dublin (Dublin City [Ashtown, Ballybough, Ballyfermot, Ballygall, Ballymun, Beaumont, Cabra, Chapelizod, Cherry Orchard, Clontarf, Coolock, Crumlin, Donaghmede, Drimnagh, Drumcondra, East Wall, Fairview, Finglas, Firhouse, Glasnevin, Inchicore, Irishtown, Kilbarrack, Kilmainham, Kilmore, Kimmage, Knocklyon, North Wall, Pembre, Phibsborough, Raheny, Rathfarnham, Rathgar, Rathmines, Ringsend, Sandymount, Santry, Templeogue, Terenure, The Liberties, Walkinstown, Whitehall], Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Fingal, South Dublin)