Apple will use drone imagery to improve Maps

Apple’s officially confirmed the use of drones to capture aerial images for Apple Maps.

In a statement to Reuters yesterday, the company assured privacy advocates that it would blur out license plate numbers and people’s faces from captured imagery.

“Apple is committed to protecting people’s privacy, including processing this data to blur faces and license plates prior to publication,” it said. The state of North Carolina confirmed that Apple was included in its successful bid to launch an extended drone pilot testing program.

As many as 10 government agencies will conduct drone flight tests, including North Carolina’s Department of Transportation. According to the United States Federal Aviation Administration, Apple will be a partner in North Carolina’s program.

The US Transportation Department is conducting these expanded drone tests to assess how to regulate drones and integrate them safely into the nation’s air space. Amazon and drone maker DJi are missing from the projects. It’s unclear why they declined Amazon’s application for delivery of goods by drones to shoppers in New York City.

Some of the winning projects are focused on things like environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, pipeline oversight and integrating drones near airports.

Aside from Apple, among the winners were Intel, Airbus, Uber, FedEx and Microsoft.