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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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A largely unmarked van with rooftop cameras, similar to the one originally spotted roaming Bay Area streets earlier this month, has been captured on video in Palo Alto, California. MacRumors obtained the footage from reader Jonathan Shiu, who recently recorded the van driving past Juana Briones Park on Clemo Avenue, a residential side street located approximately 10 miles from Apple's headquarters in Cupertino.

It has been increasingly speculated that these fifth-generation Dodge Caravans, which are reportedly leased to Apple, are part of the company's work on an electric car, but it is also possible that the vans are being used for a project similar to Google's Street View. It is conceivable that the rooftop cameras are being used to either collect mapping data for Apple Maps or as sensors to assist with self-driving initiatives.

Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that Apple is hiring automotive experts to work in a top-secret research lab located near the company's headquarters. The Wall Street Journal soon followed up with a report claiming that Apple has hundreds of employees working on developing an electric vehicle, and Reuters added that the project will involve self-driving cars.

Clemo-Avenue.png
Clemo Avenue in Palo Alto, California, about 10 miles from Apple's HQ in Cupertino
Apple is likely in the early stages of research and development for any electric car project, and it is fully possible that the iPhone maker scraps the initiative before it ever reaches the public. With both Google and Tesla already invested in electric and self-driving vehicles, it will be interesting to see if Apple enters the industry or remains on the sidelines in the months and years ahead.

Article Link: Mysterious Apple Van Captured on Video in Palo Alto Residential Neighborhood
 

lowercaseperson

macrumors 6502
Oct 5, 2006
294
87
It seems almost pointless for Apple start their own street view project, unless they had some major upgrade to the original....which I can't imagine what it would be.
 

filmantopia

macrumors 6502a
Feb 5, 2010
756
1,983
I've seen comments saying, "A minivan... really?" This doesn't mean Apple is interested in building a minivan. They're clearly just experimenting with sensors and other related technologies that can be applied to various other vehicular form factors.

It's really exciting, and I can't wait to see where Apple takes this. If they go through with it, it could really be their most world-changing product yet.
 

MichaelJohnston

macrumors member
Jul 18, 2007
58
95
San Luis Obispo
It seems almost pointless for Apple start their own street view project, unless they had some major upgrade to the original....which I can't imagine what it would be.

And you'd think that if it actually was part of a street view project that they would have moved beyond Palo Alto by now. Assuming they have the tech working.
 

juanm

macrumors 68000
May 1, 2006
1,602
3,041
Fury 161
Could it just be the same 3d scanning/mapping that was used for Maps, adapted for high-resolution street mapping?*
Any autopilot solution would need extremely detailed mapping at a street level (curbs, small obstacles, etc...)

*as opposed to stitched spherical pictures like Google Street View has.
 

AppleScruff1

macrumors G4
Feb 10, 2011
10,026
2,948
Maybe it's not even an Apple van. :eek: Maybe Google is spying on Apple with an unmarked vehicle.
 

_Refurbished_

macrumors 68020
Mar 23, 2007
2,253
2,868
A van, a computer, and a GPS communications device. Are you getting it? These aren't three separate devices. This is one device. And we're calling it iSoccerMom. Today, Apple is going to re-invent the soccer mom.
 
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bdkennedy1

Suspended
Oct 24, 2002
1,275
528
Well, the way to find out if the van is for street view or an electric car is to see if someone is physically driving it.
 

PowerBook-G5

macrumors 65816
Jul 30, 2013
1,243
1,179
The United States of America
Man, please don't let this turn into a Sasquatch hunt-type ordeal, with a thirty second Vertical Video every time this van is seen.

Also, the blue version of the Dodge Minivan looks much better. The one that Apple is using looks terrible.
 

AppleScruff1

macrumors G4
Feb 10, 2011
10,026
2,948
HEY GUYS! IT'S THAT NEW APPLE MINIVAN! LET'S SEE IF IT'S ONE OF THOSE SELF DR*thudunk**thudunk*.


How do they know it's an Apple minivan if it has no markings? Maybe it's speculation, or maybe it's really a Samsung van spying on Apple.
 

cariacou

macrumors 6502a
Jul 21, 2010
507
428
I call fake, wasn't blur enough

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How do they know it's an Apple minivan if it has no markings? Maybe it's speculation, or maybe it's really a Samsung van spying on Apple.

The car is leased to apple according to its vin #
 

VitalicBoi

macrumors newbie
Feb 15, 2015
9
5
Apple to the future!

Your all wrong people. This is apple's new time traveling device. It's disguised right now so that people don't get suspicious. It's a van that goes back and forth between the past and future. When it's finished it will actually look like a very large green apple on wheels. The interior will be filled with edible apple flavoured parts that, once eaten, will allow you to control the vehicle. Sadly you can only use it so many times because over time the vehicle becomes completely eaten. Apple is trying desperately to figure out how to fix this problem. Another problem with the vehicle is that it tends to attract cats by the dozens. They don't know why but cats just love following the Apple Van. Apple loves this, but is trying desperately to figure out how to keep the vehicle from smelling like kitty litter. 3rd world problems...I know.
 

AppleScruff1

macrumors G4
Feb 10, 2011
10,026
2,948
First off, the minivan is pretty close to being the same silver color as the iPhone 6. Secondly, if it were Samsung, they'd be driving Kias, not Dodge.

They're doing a good job of throwing people off the trail. Kia's would be too obvious. You don't have any inside info to share? :D
 

TRICKorDEVICE

macrumors 6502a
Sep 20, 2014
828
112
And you'd think that if it actually was part of a street view project that they would have moved beyond Palo Alto by now. Assuming they have the tech working.

They have moved past Palo Alto. Approximately a week to go I saw one of these vehicles driving on I 15 south. A freeway in San Diego.
 

AnsonX10

macrumors member
Apr 20, 2009
69
69
4/20
I was going to make a comment about being a minivan (would have been the first comment), but then I thought that it wasn't necessary. Apparently it was.

I was wondering why they chose a minivan too. Perhaps it's for the space required for the technical shizzle wizzle, but more likely it's a minivan for relative inconspicuousness.
 

Squid7085

macrumors 6502a
Aug 14, 2002
558
48
Charlotte, NC
It seems almost pointless for Apple start their own street view project, unless they had some major upgrade to the original....which I can't imagine what it would be.

How would it be pointless? The original point of StreetView was to send vehicles out to actually drive the roads and improve the maps. The photos could assist in reading signs for speed limits and one-way streets, and the GPS data could help improve the maps. This isn't new, Garmin and other companies had been doing similar things for years to help improve their maps, that's how the "base map" that Google and Apple started with was made. Apple would be stupid to NOT be doing this to help improve their maps.

With that said, maybe it was Googles plan all along, but given how awful the original street view photos were, I don't think they ever intended to make the images public. Rather they used them internally to improve maps. Somebody likely said one day "Hey, maybe our users would find these images useful."

If I were to throw in my guess as to what Apple is doing, I would say it's a mix between street view and flyover. Flyover looks great from far away, but is pretty rough at street level. If Apple is driving around and taking "flyover" photos at street level, that could create something as useful as street view, but have it actually have dimension instead of being flat photos. That could be really useful and cool, while also serving the basic purpose of improving map data.
 

puma1552

Suspended
Nov 20, 2008
5,559
1,946
Whatever this is, it won't see the light of day, which is a good thing. Maybe some technologies will, which is fine, but a car and everything that comes with developing one? Yeah right.

Stick to what you know, cars aren't your wheelhouse, Apple. Go back inside.
 
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