Uber has begun to map out Vancouver streets in an effort to prepare themselves for the company’s eventual winter 2017 rollout.
In a move that the ride-sharing app describes as a “significant investment in British Columbia,” 25 Uber mapping cars will hit the roads to collect mapping imagery across Metro Vancouver. These enhanced maps will allow passengers to seamlessly maneuver around their communities as well as offering more precise pick-up and drop-off locations. This West Coast expansion follows Uber’s trends of increasing mapping efforts across Canada.
You may wonder why mapping efforts are even needed in a world where both Google and Apple, along with other services like Waze, offer up-to-the-minute navigation and traffic tools. Mapping is perhaps the most important core technology behind the force that is Uber, as accurate maps and GPS signals allow the service to best match nearby drivers with the right customer while providing a very accurate ETA. Uber’s mapping efforts will help clarify traffic patterns, building entrance and exits and the best places to let passengers off a ride.
“The ongoing need for maps tailored to the Uber experience is why we’re doubling down on our investment in mapping,” said Manik Gupta, head of product for maps at Uber. “Over the past decade mapping innovation has changed our daily life. That progress will only accelerate in the coming years especially with technologies like self-driving cars,”
Vancouver has long fought against the arrival of the ride-sharing app, with taxi advocacy groups being some of the most vocal opponents. Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs has also been extremely outspoken against Uber, decrying its price surge practices during busy periods.
“As we prepare to bring ridesharing to British Columbia, we are making this investment now to ensure that we can best serve the people that will rely on Uber to earn and get around their communities,” said Ramit Kar, general manager of Uber Western Canada.
The acting Liberal government of British Columbia has said the app will come to the province before the end of 2017, with December as a target date. Nothing official has been announced so far.