Global mapping is high on the list of Uber's priorities. The ridehailing service will invest $500 million to build its own internal mapping system and, ultimately, move away from reliance on third-party data.

Apart from the company's own data system, Uber drivers depend on Google Maps at the moment. As Uber's head of mapping points out, however, some of the information included in Google Maps are either lacking, since there is no information on traffic patterns, or unnecessary, since it includes ocean topography.

'Doubling Down'

"The ongoing need for maps tailored to the Uber experience is why we're doubling down on our investment in mapping," says Brian McClendon, the former Google Maps head poached by Uber to lead the new digital mapping project.

McClendon believes a robust GPS and mobile mapping technology will allow Uber to select the nearest available driver to pick up customers, plot the quickest route to a dropoff point, and predict the estimated time of arrival accurately.

"I remain excited by the prospect of how maps can put the world at our fingertips, improve everyday life, impact billions of people and enable innovations we can't even imagine today," McClendon shares.

Uber mapping cars have been deployed throughout the U.S. since 2015. This summer, Mexico is also being charted, and Uber will soon expand its global mapping efforts into other locations. The service currently operates in more than 60 countries.

The half-billion dollar investment will not only bring in original data customized for Uber. It will also keep the ridehailing service from having to pay for third-party map usage, especially since Google has raised the fees for use of its Google Maps, the Financial Times reports.

Uber's Other Mapping Investments

Building an internal mapping system is part of the slew of investments Uber has been making over the past year and a half, which include the acquisition of the mapping startup deCarta and part of the image assets of Microsoft's Bing to boost navigation efforts. Uber also absorbed about 100 Bing data engineers as part of the move.

On the other hand, deCarta, as Tech Times reported, offers the ridehailing company a unique location-based, turn-by-turn navigation system that can also estimate how long an Uber ride will take.

But Uber isn't simply hunting for the best software in town. Since 2015, it has sought leaders in digital mapping, namely McClendon and another Google Maps exec, Manik Gupta.

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