7. Camera-equipped Apple minivans may signal new mapping effort
Nearly identical camera-equipped minivans have been spotted in various locations around the U.S., from San Francisco to New York, reports The Verge. The mysterious vehicles were first highlighted by California’s Claycord blog and were later confirmed to be leased to Apple by San Francisco CBS affiliate KPIX 5. While a technology analyst who spoke with KPIX 5 speculated that the minivans were self-driving test vehicles, it is far more likely that Apple is acquiring footage to improve its native Maps app.
As noted by The Verge, Apple has never acquired a permit to test self-driving cars and it seems unlikely that it would test an autonomous driving system in so many far-flung locations. On the other hand, Apple is known to be working on improving its Maps app after acquiring several mapping-related companies and startups over the past two years, as Tech Cheat Sheet previously reported. For this reason, it is more likely that Apple’s camera-equipped minivans are part of an effort to provide a street-level view in Apple Maps, similar to what Google Maps offers. To get more details on Apple’s mysterious vehicles, check out Tech Cheat Sheet’s full report here.