Apple Inc. was spotted driving camera-equipped Dodge Caravans throughout the streets of San Francisco. An early report said the Apple van could be a self-driving prototype, but others claim it looks more like one of Google’s Street View cars.
A Dodge Caravan sporting a range of roof-mounted camera tech was roaming the Bay Area on Tuesday, and spotted by television station KPIX. The vehicle is leased to Apple, according to California Department of Motor Vehicles.
The vehicle is probably a test model of a self-driving car, claims technology analyst Rob Enderle. Enderle told KPIX that Apple’s van had 12 cameras, which he claims is too many for it to be just mapping the area. In response, AppleInsider noted that Google’s own Street View cars have as many as 15 cameras and syggested Apple is likely working on its own version of the popular Google Maps feature.
A YouTube video captured a strikingly similar Caravan driving in Brooklyn last September, which the uploader claimed was a “self-driving car.” Apple is not one of the six companies licensed to test self-driving cars in the U.S., but Enderle said it could be working with a partner company on the technology.
Apple refused to comment on the customized Caravans.
A number of reports countered Enderle’s claims, saying Apple was probably working on its own version of Street View. The iPhone maker is also developing its CarPlay system for in-vehicle infotainment.