India is one of the largest markets for popular ride hailing app, Uber, with its presence in 29 Indian cities. It is now at the second spot for the company after U.S, post its recent exit from China. The company is in direct competition with Ola and is continuously striving to take up on the company. Company’s founder Travis Kalanick had previously stated that it would be investing around $1 billion in India operations.
As per recent reports, these investments would be utilized towards mapping more streets in the country. This will reduce the friction in passenger pickups and drop offs. Further, it will enhance time utility and lead to faster cab arrivals. The company is currently engaged in talks with third party data providers which would be assisting Uber to access maps of a particular geography. They will also be providing the company updates on traffic, hence, building an efficient route network for drivers.
Manik Gupta, director of products, commented upon investments in the said direction as under,
Expected time of arrival (ETA) is super high priority for us. One of the biggest component of ETA inaccuracy is traffic. Because, if you don’t have a good understanding of traffic on a route, you cannot estimate the ETAs better.Next, how we solve the pickup problem? In most cities, you have a lot of high rises where GPS accuracy is not very good. So how do we communicate to the driver where exactly to pick you up from? if you are in a mall, where should the pick-up happen?
Manik has previously worked as director of product management for Google Maps and has onboarded Uber this November. The company plans to enhance precision of its maps even in parking lots and in terms of road blocks which is not available on any known map service provider as of now. It has also recently hired former Google Earth Head Brian McClendon as a step in the similar direction. Gupta added,
Maps will perhaps never be perfect. Maps represent the real world and the real world is not static. A lot of companies have invested tremendous amount of resources into that and so has Uber. So it is important for us to understand as a company what is changing constantly and accommodate them in our maps and make them as fresh as possible.
Uber currently operates on Google Maps integrating its own APIs with the same. It is yet to implement the changes post the channelization of investments.