apple camera car

A handful of unmarked minivans have been spotted driving around California over the past several days with what appears to be roof-mounted camera equipment. No one seems to know what the vehicles are up to, but CBS’ Bay Area affiliate was able to¬†confirm with the DMV that at least one of the vans is¬†leased to Apple.

More specifically, the minivans feature custom¬†X-shaped frames atop their luggage racks, fitted with¬†what appears to be¬†12 cameras.¬†It also has a pair of cylindrical antennas, which the news outlet speculates could be LiDAR sensors‚ÄĒa laser-based technology used in self-driving vehicles, as well as¬†high-resolution mapping.

So does this mean Apple is working on self-driving cars? Probably not. Apple does not have¬†the necessary permits to test driverless¬†vehicles¬†in the state of California. The more likely scenario is that these are mapping cars, similar to¬†Google’s Street View cars, sent out to capture street-level photos for Apple’s mapping software.

Apple has in recent months shown interest in taking its 2-year-old Maps app to the next level. In November, a job listing was discovered hinting that the company is in the process of bringing the app to the web, and it also launched a new Maps Connect portal, which allows businesses to manage their listings within Maps.

Source: KPIX via AppleInsider