Navteq to supply Microsoft with 3D map data

It takes a long time to drive every street in the world to supply your online map service with 3D data. Navteq is giving Microsoft some help for its new Bing maps.

Navteq announced a partnership Monday under which it will supply 3D map data for Microsoft's newly expanded mapping online services.

Last week, Microsoft took its first steps building 3D imagery into Bing Maps with data from about 100 cities to start with in the Streetside feature that gives a driver's-eye view of the world. But slogging down innumerable streets the world over is an arduous process--Google has been doing it for years with Street View and still has a ways to go to add its first data, not to mention the challenge of keeping views up to date.

Microsoft's new mapping tricks

Navteq, which already has a sizeable data-collection operation and supplies mapping data to Microsoft and others, now is upgrading its technology in cooperation with Microsoft. The 3D data will be available to other customers, too, though.

"With this new relationship, Navteq elevates its alliance with a trusted collaborator to help advance important 3D collection technologies which, when integrated into Navteq's broader proprietary data-collection process, will support the capture of a range of advanced navigable map features at an exceptional level of accuracy and scale," the company said in a statement. "Navteq will be integrating these new technologies into its field collection vehicles, and the company's full roster of customers will be able to benefit from this technology deployment."

Google Street View has a major head start over Streetside, but it lacks a fluid 3D interface. Expect it to arrive some day, though: Google already collects 3D data using laser-scanning equipment.

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