Apple has been the butt of many jokes when it comes to maps and navigation. The launch of Apple Maps after the company decided to move away from Google Maps was a mess, though it’s admittedly gotten a lot better since then.
It looks like Apple’s finally looking to take the next step in building out their mapping platform, though. Another vehicle has been spotted with what would normally appear to be some sort of bike and luggage rack on top of a vehicle, and according to a California state official it belongs to Apple.
So what is it? Local news stations jumped the gun and assumed Apple had started developing driver-less vehicle technology like Google is currently doing, though Apple hasn’t secured any licenses or permits for those types of vehicles. This is more likely to be a vehicle that will help Apple gain data to improve navigation and potentially capture a collection of images for use in a Street View-like feature. Here’s a shot of one of Google’s Street View cars for comparison’s sake:
The rack actually houses a number of camera sensors and antennae that could be used to map an area through digital imagery, as well as track the route of the vehicle. The front of the car is also said to be equipped with LiDar sensors, a technology that makes it possible to capture high resolution multi-dimensional images. It’s said to be similar to the same technology used for Google’s Street View cars.
Viewable on the vehicle’s rear wheel is also some sort of sensor that tracks rotations per minute, likely a tool to help validate whatever data it is they’re gathering. And that’s all it is, folks — Apple is getting more serious about maps, but we doubt it’s anything more than their desire to build out a mapping suite capable of standing on its own two feet. Google still seems to be safe as the biggest entity in America looking to push driver-less cars forward.
[via Apple Insider]