Uber 'to spend $500 million' on building its own mapping technology

Taxi app reportedly wants to reduce its reliance on Google Maps

Uber is getting ready to spend $500 million (379 million) on a global mapping scheme in order to reduce its dependence on Google, according to reports.

The taxi-hailing app announced the project to create its own mapping tech in a blog post last week by Brian McClendon, the former head of Google Maps Uber hired last year.

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"Accurate maps are at the heart of our service and the backbone of our business," McClendon said. "Existing maps are a good starting point, but some information isn't that relevant to Uber, like ocean topography. There are other things we need to know a lot more about, like traffic patterns and precise pickup points."

Citing "a person familiar with the matter", the Financial Times said Uber will invest $500 million in the project and suggested this could also be a move to become more independent of Google, for two reasons.

Firstly, while Google was an early investor in Uber, the two are increasingly competitors, particularly in the realm of self-driving cars. Secondly, Google has put up the fees for using its mapping service, so over the long term developing its own maps could work out cheaper for Uber.

This is not the first time Uber has invested in its own mapping technology either. In 2015, Uber snapped up an imagery collection team from Microsoft Bing and mapping specialists deCarta.

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IT Pro contacted Uber for confirmation of the $500 million investment figure, however the company was unable to comment.

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