A large black car covered in cameras was spotted in San Francisco snapping photos and more. The car was registered to Apple.
The minivan was spotted and photographed before being confirmed by The California Department of Motor Vehicles as registered to Apple.
The cameras on the vehicle include spinning cylindrical units which look like LiDAR. This laser-based kit is the same technology used by Google and HERE to create high-resolution maps of the streets. It looks like Apple may be updating its mapping service soon with far richer detail then.
A similar car with California number plates was also spotted in Brooklyn, New York last September. This suggests Apple has been mapping for sometime and we could see the update arrive sooner rather than later.
Apart from LiDAR the car also has at least 12 cameras that appear to be laid out to photograph the area is high quality – similar to what Google does. There also appears to be small disc-shaped antennas with sensors over the rear wheel. This could be used to accurately measure the movements of the car – potentially offering offline maps in Apple's future navigation software.
There have been suggestions that this is part of Apple's plans to create self-driving cars. But since the company has no permits for testing these we doubt that very much. But expecting a high-detailed update to Apple Maps soon seems like a fair expectation.