File this under “unbelievable,” but according to reports from the Bay Area, multiple black vans owned by Apple have been spotted driving around San Francisco with a fancy camera array on top that may indicate the company is developing a self-driving car.
The vehicles have also been spotted in Brooklyn and could be designed to create a competitor to Google Street View. But after looking at the camera array, which is much different than Street View cars, some experts are convinced it’s a self-driving car prototype.
We’re pretty skeptical that it’s a self-driving car, but it wouldn’t be completely outlandish for Apple to be interested in getting into the auto market. Other than the camera, sensors and simple robotics used to steer and accelerate, most of the magic behind self-driving cars lies in the software – an area Apple could excel in with its focus on simplicity.
Phil Schiller revealed during Apple’s trial versus Samsung that the company had ambitions to make a car before it made the iPhone. Apple also holds hundreds of patents related to automobile hardware and software.
The vans driving around New York and San Francisco don’t have any Apple logos, and their drivers have been silent when asked what they’re doing. DMV records show the vehicles are registered to Apple. The apparatus on top could be a self-driving solution that retrofits onto existing vehicles. Or it could be something no one’s guessed yet. Only Tim Cook truly knows.
Apple isn’t one of the six U.S. companies with a permit to test self-driving cars, but it could be working in partnership with one that does. A company rep declined to comment on the purpose of the cars, but if speculators are right, CarPlay could be getting a serious upgrade in the future.