Uber is hoping satellite images will mean no more standing on street corners saying, “No, that’s where I’m standing, where are you?” The company announced this week it will be partnering with DigitalGlobe “to help identify and improve pickup and drop-off locations,” the company said in a press release.
DigitalGlobe, which has also worked with companies like Google and Apple (and, oh yeah, the government), will provide high-res aerial images to Uber. “Uber will leverage DigitalGlobe’s industry leading constellation of sensors to access imagery and location intelligence,” DigitalGlobe explained. This partnership will allow Uber and its drivers to have a better, real-time knowledge of what is happening on the roads, like construction or traffic. “The highest-resolution of DigitalGlobe’s satellites can detect pixels as small as 30 centimeters across, which lets them resolve most street markings,” The Atlantic reports.
The partnership is also a strategic move on Uber’s part, given the company has already taken strides into the self-driving car market. If, or more realistically when, Uber fully automates its fleet of vehicles, having an accurate mapping system will be crucial to success. (Of course, autopilot tech is still a ways out from that.)