Apple Will Employ Robots to Map Building Interiors

Cupertino has found another way to compete against Google, and this time it’s the search giant’s Indoor Maps it’s going after. Apple Maps are said to include this feature as early as next month.

Rumors regarding Apple’s upcoming iOS 9 have started piling up a few months ago, and at that time, it seemed that the main focus will be on making the mobile operating system more stable and better optimized, instead of just adding countless features to it. More recently, reports regarding Apple Maps suggest that the company took an interest in mapping subway, train, and bus routes, as well as building interiors.

To make indoor maps, Apple won’t rely on 3D mapping smartphones such as Google’s Project Tango. Instead, it will use robot mapmakers whose moving patterns won’t differ that much from Roomba’s (pictured above in a timelapse photo). More than that, Apple’s robots will also be similar in size to the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner. In terms of connectivity, however, there will be substantial differences, as the Cupertino company will equip its mapmakers with Bluetooth and one of its own technologies, iBeacon.

Of course, the first buildings to be mapped will include shopping malls, airports, and museums (in other words, buildings visited by millions of people a year), but I would suggest going even further, to map hospitals and universities. It became virtually impossible to get lost in the outdoors as long as you have a smartphone or a tablet, and an Internet connection, but somehow building interiors still represent a challenge that we will soon be able to overcome.

It took Apple two years since purchasing WiFiSlam (the startup that invented a technology that relies on ambient Wi-Fi signals to pinpoint your location) to come up with something in this field, but it is yet uncertain if the robot mapmakers will use the same technology. One can’t help but wonder if the indoor maps made by Apple will be any good. The competition is known to make far more accurate maps when it comes to the outdoors, so Cupertino actually has the chance to turn the tide. Not so long ago, Apple Maps was suggesting routes so illogical they could kill a Vulcan, whereas Google Maps have been showing people the right path (does this sound religious or what?!) for quite a few years now.

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