How Google Builds Its Maps—and What It Means for the Future of Everything
An exclusive look inside Ground Truth, the secretive program to build the world's best accurate maps. Behind every Google Map, there is a much more complex map that's the key to your queries but hidden from your view. The deep map contains the logic of places: their no-left-turns and freeway on-ramps, speed limits and traffic conditions. This is the data that you're drawing from when you ask Google to navigate you from point A to point B -- and last week, Google showed me the internal map and demonstrated how it was built. It's the first time the company has let anyone watch how the project it calls GT, or "Ground Truth," actually works. Google opened up at a key moment in its evolution. And for good reason. "If you look at the offline world, the real world in which we live, that information is not entirely online," Manik Gupta, the senior product manager for Google Maps, told me. This is not just a theoretical concern. But that would entail actually building a better map.
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