Apple is reportedly in the process of gathering their own mapping data to build the next generation of their Maps service.

Apple has reported deployed specially equipped vans in order to build up their own mapping database, which would reduce the company's reliance on third parties like TomTom. This would seem to be a large-scale version of the approach the company is reportedly taking with indoor mapping.

From 9to5Mac:

For end users, this change will mean more accurate and rapidly updated data. For Apple, this means more control over the core user experience, and, consequently, less of a need to rely on partners for data to be updated. Apple is notably taking a similar approach to its upcoming indoor mapping feature, which is being developed entirely in-house with iBeacons equipped to small autonomous robots.

Part of this data-gathering initiative is reportedly taking pictures for a street view feature, which may also be presented much differently than the feature found in Google Maps. Apple is also said to have focused on taking pictures of business, to replace the current Yelp-provided images.

The initial plan is currently said to be for Apple to move to the new Maps foundation by some time in 2017, though that date could always change.

Source: 9to5Mac