No, the mysterious vans that were spotted in different parts of the country this year aren’t part of Project Titan, Apple’s secret self-driving car project. Instead, they are used to gather data that will most likely be used to power future versions of the company’s Maps app, reducing reliance on third-party data providers, as Mark Gurman reported Friday.
According to Gurman, who spoke to sources familiar with Apple’s plans, the company intends to move the core mapping data collection in house, instead of relying on its multiple partners. Pegged for 2017, this overhaul of Maps would give the company more control over the data used in Maps. This is actually how companies like Google collect their own data, taking all third-party providers out of the equation.
Adding to his report, Gurman notes that the vans are used to collect Street View data, and take pictures of businesses. Street View data could be used to compete with Google’s similar feature, and photos of businesses could be used to reduce once again the company’s reliance on third-party partners such as Yelp, who’s been providing the photos of business storefronts seen in Maps app.