Even though Uber hasn't been the darling of a number of governments and rival cab services either for its surge pricing policy or employment status of its drivers or legality issues, the ride sharing service continues to grow at an astronomical pace in many regions across the world. Such has been its growth that while the company spoke about creating driverless cars on its own as recently as March, a new report states that Uber will be investing as much as $500 million on a global mapping project which will be as accurate and detailed as Google Maps, a service the company is totally dependent on at present.
Even though not much information is presently available on how Uber plans to initiate the global mapping program, what is clear is that the company is banking on not being dependent on other services to continue to grow in the future. Uber's quest to create a mapping service of its own, however, will surely not be a cakewalk. Since Uber hasn't talked about it publicly yet, it's unclear what the timelines are or the regions where the service will be initially rolled out, if the project is still on paper or if work on it has already begun. Given that the company recently inquired about purchasing 100,000 semi-autonomous Mercedes S-Class cars off the shelf and that it plans to initiate development of autonomous car technologies on its own, its home-grown mapping service may be curated specifically for autonomous vehicles in the future.
As far as developing its own technologies is concerned, a big chunk of Uber's investments may go straight to the company's Pittsburgh Advanced Technologies Center which hasn't produced a self driving car yet but is working towards that goal. The company is presently embroiled in a class action lawsuit with its drivers in the U.S. who are claiming to be full time drivers instead of being independent contractors, apart from the fact that a bulk of user complaints arise out of the conduct of its drivers. In such a scenario, a push towards driverless cars in the long run could save a lot of money for the company and improve its overall ratings among those hailing rides as well.