Earlier this month, satellite imaging technology company DigitalGlobe announced it was partnering with Uber to “leverage DigitalGlobe’s industry leading constellation of sensors to access imagery and location intelligence to help identify and improve pick-up and drop-off locations.” Last week, Uber posted a press release to announce that Brian McClendon, the former head of Google Maps who left the company for Uber last year, would be leading Uber’s global mapping initiative. McClendon wrote that the company is “doubling down” on its mapping investment but didn’t say how much it would spend.
A report from the Financial Times published this Sunday claims Uber will invest a hot half-billion in mapping the globe in order “to wean itself off dependence on Google Maps and pave the way for driverless cars.” It’s still unclear what exactly this $500 million will be spent on.
The Financial Times also reports that Google is raising its fees for other’s companies to use Maps, which likely factored into Uber’s decision to invest in its own mapping software. Makes sense, especially considering both companies are currently developing self-driving cars.