Strange Dodge Vans Stir Apple Self-Driving Car Rumors
Though the writing isn't exactly on the wall, popular belief suggests that soon self-driving cars will not only be an option for car buyers, they will be the option. Google has so far been somewhat candid with their cutesy self-driving prototype. Apple on the other hand has not, which is why the latest snapshots of Dodge Caravans toting techy camera gear on top have created so much buzz online. Could these vans foreshadow Apple's foray into the self-driving car market? For now, it seems unlikely. The van snapshots, which surfaced on Claycord in the San Francisco Bay Area, reveal strange x-shaped rigs mounted atop the van's luggage rack. They appear to feature cameras at each corner, front and rear LiDAR laser arrays, antennas, and a variety of other computer systems. A similar vehicle was spotted with California plates driving through Brooklyn last fall. RELATED: The 2014 Rinspeed XchangE could be the future of autonomous vehicles
As Apple Insider notes, one of the photographed vehicles was traced through the California Department of Motor Vehicles as being leased by Apple. However, Apple doesn't currently possess a permit to test self-driving cars in California. While the permit might be filed under a small subsidiary to forego market attention, many signs begin to point towards Apple's mapping technology.
The mysterious Dodge Caravans are likely the latest tools in fine-tuning Apple's mapping service by accumulating street-view data and closing the technological gap to the popular Google Maps. We wouldn't bet against Apple releasing an autonomous car at some point – this just doesn't seem to be it, yet.
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