Uber ups its street smarts with new mapping data

STREET CAMS: Uber mapping driver Brian Hurst will be one of the drivers mapping Toowoomba's streets for the ride-sharing company.
STREET CAMS: Uber mapping driver Brian Hurst will be one of the drivers mapping Toowoomba's streets for the ride-sharing company. Tara Miko

EXCLUSIVE: Ride sharing is about to get easier in Toowoomba with Uber investing in new mapping software tracking the city's traffic movements and unique features.

As part of the company's investment in its regional areas, Uber will today launch cars fitted with specially designed mapping cameras and software to accurately capture the city's streets.

Since the company's launch in the Garden City last June, more than 9000 people have signed up to become regular riders, with about 500 drivers hitting the streets.

The new mapping service will improve response times and locations of drivers and accurately reflect estimated fares.

"Existing maps are a good starting point but some information isn't that relevant to Uber," a spokesman said.

"There are other things we need to know a lot more about, like traffic patterns and precise pick-up and drop-off locations.

"The street imagery captured by our mapping devices will help us improve core elements of the Uber experience in Toowoomba, like the best routes for riders and drivers, and identify street segments that are better suited for pick-ups and drop-offs."

Toowoomba will be the fourth Queensland market to receive the specialised mapping behind Brisbane and the Gold and Sunshine coasts.

It has also been completed in Melbourne and Sydney after a successful initial roll-out in Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa last year.

It is understood at least three specially fitted cars will travel more than 100km each day mapping the city and its surrounding regions and recording the data.

Uber allayed concerns the recorded data would violate privacy issues of its drivers and riders.

Mapping is expected to take a number of weeks.

Topics:  public transport ride sharing toowoomba toowoomba cbd uber

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