“Apple Inc. plans to use drones and new indoor navigation features to improve its Maps service and catch longtime leader Google, according to people familiar with the matter,” Mark Gurman and Alan Levin report for Bloomberg. “The Cupertino, California-based company is assembling a team of robotics and data-collection experts that will use drones to capture and update map information faster than its existing fleet of camera-and-sensor ladened minivans, one of the people said. ”

“Apple wants to fly drones around to do things like examine street signs, track changes to roads and monitor if areas are under construction, the person said,” Gurman and Levin report. “The data collected would be sent to Apple teams that rapidly update the Maps app to provide fresh information to users, the person added. Apple is also developing new features for Maps, including views inside buildings and improvements to car navigation, another person familiar with the efforts said.”

“Collecting accurate data is the most important part of digital map building and Apple’s latest moves could help it match the prodigious capabilities of Google in this field,” Gurman and Levin report. “Apple filed for an exemption on Sept. 21, 2015, from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones for commercial purposes, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg News… Apple’s application told the FAA that it would use a range of drones sold by companies such as SZ DJI Technology Co. and Aibotix GmbH to collect the data.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: In just four years, Apple Maps has gone from joke to a rather useful tool. We no longer use Google Maps in the U.S.