Uber starts mapping Britain

Ride hire firm will snap photos of Britain's streets to improve its services

Google isn't the only tech firm mapping Britain's roads - now Uber is at it, too. 

The company revealed today that it's building its own maps of the UK, rather than relying on third-party mapping. 

Its camera cars hit the road in London today, and will spread to other UK cities over the next few months. Uber already has mapping cars driving across the US.

"Existing maps are a good starting point, but some information isn't that relevant to Uber, like ocean topography," the company said in a blog post. "There are other things we need to know a lot more about, like traffic patterns and precise pickup and dropoff locations. Moreover, we need to be able to provide a seamless experience in parts of the world where there aren't detailed maps or street signs."

Uber isn't only capturing routes, but also snapping photos. "The street imagery captured by our mapping cars will help us improve core elements of the Uber experience, like ideal pick-up and drop-off points and the best routes for riders and drivers," the company said. 

Those are all valid reasons for Uber to make its own maps, but it's also likely to play into the company's self-driving car plans - an area where it will go head-to-head with Google, so it's understandable the ride-finding firm may want some space from its rival.

The news comes after Uber allegedly bid $3 billion for Nokia's HERE mapping service last year. Nokia eventually sold the technology for 1.9 billion to Audi, BMW and Daimler.

Last month, reports emerged that Uber was budgeting $500 million to build its own mapping service.

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