Well that didn't take long.
Apple received a permit in California earlier this month so it could start testing Lexus cars with self-driving technology, and already, Apple has been spotted driving around the Silicon Valley area. Bloomberg News posted footage of a white Lexus RX450h crossover outfitted with the usual sensors and hardware you'd see on a self-driving car. Most of it appears to be third party, including a Velodyne-made LIDAR sensor.
You can also see two radar units and several cameras, as noted by Bloomberg. We don't know what Apple is doing with this car or what types of data it is collecting, but we imagine the vehicle is part of its secret Project Titan autonomous car unit. That project originally started with a lofty ambition: Apple wanted to develop its own self-driving car, but now, it's scaled back and focusing on autonomous software.
Will Apple let car maker add its autonomous software one day? Who knows. All we know is that Apple declared in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last December that it was “investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation”.
There's a lot of unknowns right now, but it's still exciting nonetheless.