Uber has proven so popular in Wollongong that the rideshare company has to update its mapping of the region.
From Tuesday six Uber mapping cars – each fitted with a roof-mounted camera – will be driving through the streets of the Illawarra.
The process is estimated to take several weeks and the resulting data will be used to enhance the mapping process at the core of the Uber app.
“These vehicles are collecting imagery in Wollongong where this information can improve our underlying technology, such as where it can help determine and improve suggested pick-up and drop-off points or more accurate routes and arrival times,” said Uber’s Head of Maps Manik Gupta.
While the concept of cameras mounted on the roof of a car sounds like Google Maps, Mr Gupta said Uber was looking to fine-tune the maps to suit their own purposes.
“As maps have become more advanced, it may seem like we have all the information we need,” Mr Gupta said.
“But mapping for Uber purposes requires a more nuanced data set than what exists today.
“For example, we don’t need to know what ocean topography looks like, but we do need to be able to understand ideal pick-up and drop-off locations outside a building.”
The images collated during the process will not be released to the public.
Mr Gupta said Uber’s own mapping will be used alongside Google Maps where appropriate.
He said the process will benefit riders through better pick-up and drop-off points, as well as reducing the time taken for each trip.
The driver will find the mapping should make navigating from job to job easier.
“From the street imagery that is captured, we can extract information which helps us improve core elements of the Uber rider and driver experience, such as ideal pick-up and drop-off points, better routes, and calculating more accurate ETAs,” he said.
“Examples of information we extract from imagery can include business names and addresses, locations, street names, and much more.”
Uber NSW general manager Henry Greenacre was pleased with the take-up in Wollongong.
“Since we brought ridesharing to Wollongong we’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response from local residents,” he said.