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Apple working on 3D mapping at secret Swedish hideaway

"Advanced mapping technology." So not Apple Maps then?

By Kieren McCarthy, 15 Sep 2015

Apple is secretly expanding a research and development plant in Sweden that develops 3D mapping technologies.

The plant is run by C3 Technologies, which Apple bought in 2011. According to Swedish news sources, it's based in Lund in the south of the country, just over the water from Copenhagen.

C3 Technologies was a subsidiary of Saab, a name best known for its car manufacturing subsidiary, but which is primarily an aerospace and defense company. It holds proprietary technology that enables images taken from moving cameras at different angles to build 3D models of what they see.

That technology was a part of Apple's decision to relaunch its Apple Maps app as the default on its iPhone operating system – a launch that went badly to say the least.

Google also has advanced 3D mapping technology, and Amazon acquired UpNext soon after Apple's purchase of C3 Technologies.

Despite its terrible relaunch, Apple's Maps app has been improving. Recently the company has been following in the footsteps of Google (and its superior mapping technology) by creating its own version of Google's real-world Street View by driving special vans around cities, mostly in the US. Apple is also reportedly working on its own version of a self-driving car.

According to news service Rapidus, Apple is expanding its "temporary" plant in Lund and has been hiring in force. Given Apple's plans to create its own Street View, the expansion in 3D mapping technology makes obvious sense. Much more street-level detail would also be needed for a self-driving car. ®

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