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Uber buys deCarta to improve mapping and arrival estimates

Uber buys deCarta to improve mapping and arrival estimates

Uber is acquiring deCarta to improve the mapping technology in its app

Uber's mobile app.

Uber's mobile app.

Uber is acquiring deCarta, a mapping and location company that could help Uber to develop new types of services and also ensure its drivers show up on time.

DeCarta, headquartered in San Jose, California, holds a variety of data pertaining to mapping, local search and turn-by-turn navigation. Location services in cars from GM and Ford have been powered by deCarta's technology, as well as devices from Samsung and Blackberry.

Now, Uber is buying the company for an undisclosed sum. It will allow Uber to improve services like UberPool and also give its users more accurate estimated times of arrival.

UberPool lets several people share the same ride, with multiple pick up and drop off points, so it involves more complex routing data than a regular Uber ride. But regular rides could benefit too, if deCarta's technology can help Uber drivers know exactly where they're supposed to pick you up.

Uber is acquiring the company for its engineers as well as its technology. About 30 of deCarta's 40 employees will be joining Uber when the deal closes later this week.

Uber, which launched its service in 2010, has made a small number of acquisitions over the years but didn't disclose them.

DeCarta could also help Uber with more futuristic efforts, like developing its own self-driving car technology.

Uber's app currently gets its mapping from a number of sources including Google, Apple and Uber itself. Acquiring deCarta could signal a desire to lessen its dependency on some of those sources. Google, however, is a major investor in Uber, having put at least US$258 million into the company.

News of the acquisition was first reported by Mashable.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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