Apple’s Mystery Vans Point to Its Entry Into Street View Mapping System
Seen anything weird lately in the San Francisco Bay area? May be you’ve noticed weird looking minivans with massive equipment mounted on them. If you thought these minivans were of alien origin, rest assured they are not. You’re not going to be kidnapped and experimented on by aliens anytime soon.
These mysterious minivans actually belong to Apple and are equipped with powerful cameras. The cameras in question are LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) systems.
You can also see two small antennas fitted on the roof along with a sensor over the rear wheel. This seems to be used for accurate measurements of movement.
The technology has been extensively used before by the likes of Nokia, Google and others to map images for Street View services. The same technology is used in some cruise control implementations, which helps determine the distance between cars and apply brake automatically.
Analyst Rob Enderle spoke with KPIX and stated that these cars seem to be self-driving. However, he thinks it’s an unlikely possibility that the company is experimenting with this idea, because Apple isn’t issued any permits for such tests.
From the looks of it, Apple is preparing for a mapping program similar to Google’s Street View. Testing isn’t limited to one area as a similar minivan was seen in New York back in September. This indicates that Apple has been planning and testing mapping program for a while now.
Apple has been working on improving its mapping service since, in a not so popular decision; the company removed Google Maps two years ago as the default maps app in iOS.
At the beginning, Apple’s service was infested with issues such as Poor 3D imagery, inaccurate listing, awful driving direction and more. Since then, things have improved but if Apple is planning to create its own Street View, it will have to cover every detail in order to compete with Google and others.
The accuracy of Google Maps is what made it popular among users across the globe. Apple seems to be committed with the idea but only time will tell if they manage to implement it properly.
Apple is yet to officially comment on these minivans and it’s unlikely they will anytime soon. Still, if something is shared we’ll let you know.
Till then, feel free to speculate about the story and share your views in the comments section below.