Mysterious Apple van fuels speculation about self-driving car or Maps overhaul

Apple might be taking a page from Google's roadmap, if a camera-equipped Dodge Caravan spotted driving around the Bay Area is any indication. The vehicle reportedly has ties to an Apple project, but no one knows exactly what those cameras are for.

San Francisco TV station KPIX captured the van driving around the town of Concord this week. All the California Department of Motor Vehicles would say is that Apple had leased the vehicle. Two guesses: Apple is finally improving its native Maps app with Google-style Street Views, or the company is developing its own self-driving cars.

KPIX pointed out that Apple doesn't have a permit to operate self-driving cars in California, but Cupertino could be leasing vehicles from a company with existing permits.

Self-driving cars are the latest fad in tech--even Uber is getting in on the action--but it seems more likely that Apple is beefing up Maps with its own version of Street View or enhanced 3D mapping. If that's the case, we might not see the results of this effort anytime soon. It took Google years to gather enough data to make Google Maps useful, so if Apple manages to overhaul Maps in time for iOS 9, we'd be surprised.


Caitlin McGarry

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