Next up on big name companies’ emergence into the commercial drone space: Apple.
According to a report from Bloomberg, which cites “people familiar with the matter,” Apple is preparing to deploy unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to augment its map services and provide more detailed imagery, such as of street signs or construction zones.
The report says the aircraft, as opposed to Apple’s camera-equipped vehicles, would be able to update the company’s maps more quickly – and compete with Google and its maps at the same time.
Bloomberg says Apple first launched its mapping app in 2012 and received a commercial UAS exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration in March of this year.
The report notes that a member of Amazon Prime Air has joined Apple’s new UAS team, which is based out of Seattle (as is Amazon).
Commenting on the news, Mike Winn, CEO and co-founder of DroneDeploy, says in a statement, “Today, commercial drone flights are typically constrained by the drone’s battery life, regulations that restrict operations beyond visual line of site and flight technology that is not yet fully autonomous.
“However, fully autonomous drone operations could be here sooner than you think, and Apple seems to be planning for that future. The reported hiring of at least one employee from Amazon’s Air division is consistent with the idea that Apple is focusing on fully autonomous flight,” he says.
Read the full Bloomberg coverage here.