Creating building outlines is one task, he says, where better AI has greatly sped things up. A machine learning algorithm can look at satellite imagery and then draw the shape of the building on the Google map. Thanks to that, "we were able to double the number of buildings we've got modeled worldwide," Lookingbill says. That happened over the course of a year. "For a sense of scale," he adds, "all of the previous buildings we'd had, had taken us a decade to map." Google touches on this in a blog item it published today, which describes the way a previous algorithm created building outlines as looking "fuzzy" (the post also explains the general steps and data sources that go into their map-making).