It’s no secret that Apple is testing a system for autonomous cars on the streets of California and a few other American states – the secret, of course, is what the company will do with these tests, and whether we’ll ever see a car from Apple itself or whether it will simply license its findings to other automakers.
The company’s test cars have recently emerged in a new guise. As seen by Last Drivers License Holder, the vehicles are still exactly the same (the model is the Lexus RX-450H), but the sensor module installed on top of them has changed radically; now, all components are enclosed in a rectangular box with black borders.
This is the second change in the test car sensor scheme. The first version was supported on tripods on top of the cars, which significantly increased their height; the second, already more well thought out, spread the components over a series of «arms» spread horizontally across the ceiling. Now, with the new design, we have something much more Apple-like than previous versions.
The change doesn’t seem to be just visual, however: several websites have speculated that, in this new module, Apple has dispensed with the presence of sensors To deal, relying only on cameras to “read” the vehicle’s surroundings. LiDAR sensors are very accurate and “see” from a long distance, but they are extremely expensive. In addition, the cameras are better able to integrate with Apple’s artificial intelligence system, which may explain the (possible) change – already made by Tesla, by the way.
Still, Apple is not necessarily planning to file the LiDAR sensors on its test cars. It may be that the new module is just an attempt, and the company will revert to the old model if it realizes that the current scheme is inferior to what was used before. We will have to wait and see.
While autonomous cars do not arrive, Apple is advancing its other initiative related to land navigation. The company recently expanded the coverage of its new and improved Maps to more locations in the United States: the entire Northeast of the country is now properly updated – including states like New York, New Hampshire, Vermont and Pennsylvania.
As we have already explained, the “new Maps” are the result of data collection by Apple itself, instead of depending on a base of other companies. Apple offers much more detailed and up-to-date data, with a more refined look and better representation of the locations. The promise was that the entire U.S. territory would be covered by the new Maps by the end of 2019 – but we will have to wait and see if the plans are realized.
In addition to the USA, Map capture vehicles continue to run elsewhere. As reported by iPhone in Canada, cars were spotted recently in Huntsville, Ontarioin the country of the maple leaf.
Vehicles, as is known, are responsible for capturing data from the Look Around feature (Look Around) and other information related to Company Maps.