Apple is ramping up its efforts to completely overhaul the Apple Maps platform, with the company deploying specialist mapping units to capture street-level data to be used for a Google Street View-like service arriving within a future update to the Maps application.
As noted by the Blackpool Gazette who were first to report on the local citing, the vehicles are being used as part of Apple’s efforts to completely revamp its mapping services, with a white Apple-branded Subaru Impreza spotted capturing 360 degree images on a trip across the country.
Speaking to The Apple Post, Fylde Coast resident KJ May told of her encounter with the driver of one of the Apple Maps vehicles in Cleveleys, Blackpool on Wednesday afternoon.
Curious as to what the vehicle was doing, May was told by one of the Apple Maps crew how teams are being sent to collect data to eventually be used within a future Apple Maps update, with a team at Apple working in real-time to comb through the images and remove irrelevant and sensitive data including faces, car number plates and animals.
The driver shared some interesting tidbits regarding the camera rig mounted to the vehicle, in addition to an insight into the process taken to capture the Apple Maps data. The Maps worker told of how the equipment onboard each vehicle is priced at over half a million pounds, and how they are given a blank map by Apple with streets they need to cover each day as part of the data capturing process.
The specialist vehicle maps the streets wherever it is sent, with May sharing how the driver noted how Apple requires drivers entering cul-de-sacs/dead-ends to drive in, and reverse back out without turning round, likely so the images and data collected don’t become distorted or confused during a three point turn, and how the crew often receive abuse from those they pass who see the Apple Maps data capturing process as an invasion of privacy.
Apple is believed to have a growing fleet of vehicles mapping the country, with sources suggesting Blackpool is the U.K.’s national hub for Apple Maps vehicles. Drivers are assigned to towns and cities across the country, with crews hired on a temporary basis until the mapping process is complete.
Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue shared within an interview last year how Apple is rebuilding its Maps app “from the ground up” with the help of specialist street-level data collected from its fleet of Apple Maps vehicles, and how each vehicle is equipped with a Mac Pro, an array of solid state drives, and an iPad as well as GPS, LiDAR array, and hi-res cameras.
Apple has shared an official list of the areas in England and further afield in which its Apple Maps vehicles will be exploring between May and July, including Cheshire, Cumbria, Durham, East Sussex, Greater London, Greater Manchester, Kent, Lancashire, Merseyside, North Yorkshire, Northumberland, South Yorkshire, Surrey, Tyne and Wear, West Sussex, West Yorkshire.