Apple is one of 10 companies to be approved for a US Department of Transportation project that will allow for the use of drones beyond the current FAA limits. Apple, who will be using drones in South Carolina, has indicated that they will be using drones to capture aerial images for the improvement of Apple Maps.
The announcement yesterday by the DoT also named Microsoft and Intel as two of the other companies that had been approved. In all, 149 companies applied for the project with only 10 selected. Amazon was not selected for the program.
For Apple, the use of Drones to improve Apple Maps makes sense. Maps is nowhere near the level of Google Maps when it comes to the level of detail and accuracy of maps. While this drone program won’t have immediate impact for Maps as a whole, it should prove to give Apple important data on if drones can accomplish the task, thus saving the company from having to put mapping vehicles on the roads and thereby saving millions in operational costs.
Privacy remains a critical point for Apple in the use of drones. After the company confirmed that they had been accepted into the program, they pointed out that they would be using software to blur out faces, license plates and other personally identifying information.