Apple has been gathering tonnes of mapping data ahead of an expected Apple Maps update.
Now, the company is even using an army of robots to help them.
Briefly mentioned in an article by 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman, Apple has reportedly let loose autonomous robots with iBeacon sensors to collect data for its indoor mapping project. The little robots area about the size of an iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner.
The indoor mapping project is part of a long-term plan to update iOS Maps to help users navigate large indoor areas like stores, offices, event spaces and commercial buildings.
Apple has already been using static “iBeacons” to verify its indoor map data. As an iPhone receives a bluetooth signal from an iBeacon, the iBeacon can figure out exactly where that person is, and make sure the map accurately reflects the spaces where people would walk.
Indoor mapping could prove pretty lucrative for Apple. iBeacons are already being used to send location-specific advertising and deals to people’s smartphones. Adding very precise indoor maps will let a merchant know exactly which products the shopper is mulling over — and which discounts will push them into buying.
9to5Mac sources said that Apple is already mapping out its own offices in Cupertino — but that we shouldn’t expect the robot-powered update to go out this year with iOS 9.
However, the report also said that Apple does hope to finally launch transit services with iOS 9, having scrapped plans to release the update with iOS 8. This means that people will be able to use Apple Maps for bus, subway, and train route navigation for the first time since Apple stopped relying on Google Maps in favour of its own service.