New Apple SUVs With Expansive Autonomous Driving LIDAR Setup Spotted on the Road

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 25, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple has had several Lexus SUVs equipped with sensors and cameras out on the road to test its self-driving software platform since April, but MacRumors reader Amy, who lives near one of Apple's offices in Sunnyvale, California, recently spotted one of Apple's Lexus SUVs with a new LIDAR setup.

    Amy sees Apple's autonomous SUVs on a regular basis in the Sunnyvale area, which was previously rumored to be the spot where Apple is conducting all of its "Project Titan" research. The Lexus in question is parked directly outside of Apple's Sunnyvale location.


    The vehicle has a different LIDAR arrangement than we've seen previously, with far more sensors and cameras at the top. Apple also appears to have added new Lexus models to its testing fleet. Prior vehicles spotted were 2015 Lexus 450h SUVs, while this vehicle is a 2016 or 2017 Lexus 450h with a new design.

    It isn't immediately clear what function the additional LIDAR sensors serve, but Apple is using these vehicles to test its self-driving software platform that's in development. Other LIDAR arrangements have also been spotted atop Apple's SUVs.


    As can be seen in the photos and video, there are two main LIDAR setups at the front and the back of the vehicle, each surrounded by four other components laden with sensors and cameras.


    The LIDAR systems on the car are designed to send out laser beams to allow the car to accurately detect its surroundings, essentially creating a 3D map of the environment around the vehicle.


    GPS sensors allow the car to orient itself relative to its surroundings, helped along by radars located at the front and back of the car to measure distances to objects and wheel sensors to measure wheel movements. Cameras located near the LIDAR sensors let the car detect traffic lights, people, cars, and other moving objects.

    It's a highly complex system, and Apple's SUVs are collecting enormous amounts of data every second and then processing it with Apple's unique software to pilot the car.


    While Apple is testing self-driving vehicles, there are people in the vehicles at all times ready to take over should something go wrong. The photos we're sharing today clearly depict both a driver and a passenger monitoring the car's progress.

    Apple's car project started off with the company planning to develop a complete autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle, but internal strife, leadership issues, and other problems led Apple to shift focus.

    Under the leadership of Apple's Bob Mansfield, the company is now working on an autonomous driving platform that could potentially be used in third-party vehicles.

    Along with the SUVs, rumors suggest Apple will soon test its self-driving technology in a self-driving campus shuttle designed to ferry Apple employees between different Apple offices in the Bay Area.

    Article Link: New Apple SUVs With Expansive Autonomous Driving LIDAR Setup Spotted on the Road
  2. Crzyrio macrumors 65816

    Jul 6, 2010
    There is just no way this is for autonomous driving. They are up to something else here, we just don't know what yet. That is a ridiculous overkill of sensors for autonomous driving.
  3. BaltimoreMediaBlog macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2015
    DC / Baltimore / Northeast
    That contraption is more likely to cause an accident, not avoid one, just by distracting other drivers!
  4. jdillings macrumors 68000

    Jun 21, 2015
  5. TheTruth101 Suspended

    Mar 15, 2017
    When designing something you have redundancy. Pretty sure there are several different technologies being tested at same time. Then you can start creating the final product.
  6. star_nerdy macrumors member

    Feb 6, 2017
    So one with Mark Wahlberg?
  7. kodos macrumors 6502

    May 1, 2010
    Smart software has never been Apple's strong suit. Polished and intuitive, yes, smart no.

    So I'm curious when they give up on this project and start to release a new gold variant phone. Seems like all the cool stuff is going on at Tesla anyhow.
  8. AngerDanger, Aug 25, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017

    AngerDanger macrumors 601


    Dec 9, 2008
    Well, if I ever get something terribly ugly installed on top of my car, I can just say I'm part of Apple's autonomous vehicle program to save face.

    Ugly Car is Cool if it's Apple's.gif
  9. UL2RA Suspended

    May 7, 2017
    He's the one inside it.
  10. Amacfa macrumors 68000


    May 22, 2009
    It’s simple really. Remember when Apple bought C3? They’ve been using their sensors overhead on planes to create things like the 3D maps in Apple Maps. But now it’s on the ground level mapping out every detail, creating 3D maps of America.
  11. garirry macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2013
    Canada is my city
    There's nothing I love more than video shot vertically.
  12. Rizzm macrumors 6502a

    Feb 5, 2012
    Considering the current number of fully autonomous vehicles on the road, this statement is what's ridiculous. Autonomous driving isn't exactly simple.
  13. m4mario macrumors regular


    May 10, 2017
    San Francisco Bay Area
    The are probably testing 20 different kinds of sensor setups with that system.
  14. DotCom2 macrumors 68040

    Feb 22, 2009
  15. lkrupp macrumors 6502a

    Jul 24, 2004
    I'm not buying that self driving cars are just around the corner. Spend some time on big city thoroughfares and Interstate highways, and watch the lunacy that takes place when human drivers decide you are driving too slow for them. How any AI will be able to deal with the mental cases that inhabit powerful automobiles is anathema to me.
  16. DotCom2 macrumors 68040

    Feb 22, 2009
    I know a guy who had a safe driving distance feature on his car. It would keep a safe driving distance between his car and the car ahead of him on the freeways. He had to turn that feature off because cars kept cutting in front of him because THEY COULD!
  17. mi7chy macrumors 603


    Oct 24, 2014
    This looks more like terrain mapping data collection.
  18. miketcool macrumors 6502a


    Jun 24, 2003
    If I was testing top secret tech in public, I'd put as many sensors atop my test vehicle as well. Deception is a common tactic employed in racing to keep engine and vehicle abilities hidden from competitors.
  19. burgman macrumors 68000


    Sep 24, 2013
    Which engineering school did you graduate from?
  20. kyleh22 macrumors 6502


    Apr 26, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    I understand it's LIDAR on the roof but what is that sensor on the driver's side rear wheel?
  21. Jensend macrumors regular

    Dec 19, 2008
  22. mi7chy macrumors 603


    Oct 24, 2014
    Probably to measure suspension travel for uneven roads, dips, speed bumps, etc. I believe Tesla does the same thing so their autonomous driving system can adjust/slow down for special road conditions if the sensors don't pick them up. I went through a stretch of road yesterday that was like a roller coaster. If autonomous system doesn't see it and slow down the passengers can get thrown around or even flip the vehicle.
  23. tpham5919 macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2016
    chandler, az
    Me neither. I think they're testing a new laser weapon system for their next phase of taking over the world - "Buy iDevices now!!! Resistance is futile!."
  24. Crzyrio macrumors 65816

    Jul 6, 2010
    That one that teaches you to think logically for you self.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 25, 2017 ---
    I am fully aware it is not simple but that is still very very excessive. They are definitely using this for something much more than autonomous driving.
  25. alandanziger macrumors newbie


    Nov 22, 2010
    In all seriousness, I would not be surprised if the reason behind this new 'kit' is to get much better mapping of the _very specific_ areas that their intra-campus shuttles are going to be driving...

    It doesn't scale nation-wide or world-wide, but if they're going to be going back and forth between a few buildings in a few adjoining towns, it's reasonable to get top quality scans.

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