For many years now, Google has ruled the world of mapping content with Google Maps. Apple has made several attempts to pierce Google’s hold on it, but to date, they are still running behind the curve with a subpar map experience. With Apple being Apple, it should be clear the company has no intention of giving up the battle.
With that in mind, Apple has decided to turn to drone technology as a way to get accurate information that Google may not have access to. Back in September of 2015, Apple applied for a special exemption from the FAA. They requested approval to launch a group of commercial drones that would be used in the mapping process.
In March of this year, the FAA approved the request, citing a few important restrictions in the process. These restriction came back as follows:
- The drones must be operated by a professional who must always maintain direct line-of-sight vision with the drone
- Flying missions must be done during the daytime
- No flying directly over people or structures
As restrictive as these rules may sound, only the last one presents any kind of meaningful challenge.
With its army of drones, Apple intends to review street signs for accuracy and locate new construction in the hopes of getting a head-start on new addresses and landmarks. In the past, Apple has handled these processes with military-grade camera equipment mounted onto aircraft. Unfortunately, that process comes with logistical limitations that Apple hopes the drones will be able to remove.
While trying to improve the accuracy of its map content, Apple will also be looking to acquire companies that have the technology that’s needed to develop a better mapping product. The battle with Google is going to be fierce, but Apple has unlimited resources and the desire to win the mapping war.