Upgraded Apple Maps backpack rig uses iPhone 11 Pro for image capture

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Have you seen one of these guys walking around your city with an upgraded Apple Maps backpack with iPhone 11 Pros?
Have you seen one of these guys walking around your city?
Photo: Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac spotted an Apple employee wearing an updated data-gathering backpack powered by iPhone 11 Pros on Thursday in Silicon Valley. The wearable rig, presumably used to collect images and data for Apple Maps, looks similar to one seen in 2018. But it features a new hardshell cover — and at least three of Apple’s latest iPhones, apparently used to capture images from the backpack’s sides.

Take a look at how it compares to the old setup:

Apple’s self-driving car sports sleek new sensor array

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Apple car
Apple's self-driving car looks really good.
Photo: The Last Driver License Holder.

Apple made a big update to the design of the sensor array that powers the autonomous functions on its self-driving fleet of cars.

Some eagle-eyed observers in the Cupertino area spotted the new array a couple of times over the last month or so. Instead of having LiDAR and camera sensors mounted on a rack around the car, Apple’s gearheads created a system that’s entirely enclosed. And it looks like they’ve ditched LiDAR in the process.

Watch Apple’s whip drive down the streets of Cupertino.

Apple hires top Drive.ai talent as self-driving startup shuts down

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Drive.ai self-driving car
Drive.ai is dead.
Photo: Drive.ai

Self-driving car startup Drive.ai is reportedly shutting down — and Apple is scooping up the talent.

Drive.ai, which made kits that turn regular cars into self-driving cars, notified the Employment Development Department of California that it was shutting down and laying off all 90 of its employees. Apple was reportedly looking into acquiring the company earlier this month. Instead, Cupertino decided to just hire some of its key employees.

Apple tech could improve visibility in bad driving conditions

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Street at night 2
This could be an important development for an Apple Car.
Photo: j3n53r/Flickr CC

As part of its Project Titan initiative, Apple has invented some smart tech for improving detection of road signs and other vehicles on the road in low visibility situations.

This could ramp up safety in situations such as an autonomous Apple Car driving in foggy, snowy, low light or otherwise hard-to-see situations.

Apple seeks next-gen Lidar sensors for possible Apple Car

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Apple Car might be coming, but will it be special?
Coming soon to a road near you? Maybe.
Photo: Aristomenis Tsirbas/Freelancer

Apple is reportedly in talks with Lidar makers regarding sensors that could be used for its Apple Car initiative.

A commonly used surveying tool, Lidar measures distances between objects. It works by firing a pulsed laser light, then measuring how long it takes to bounce back. While not exclusively used in self-driving cars, that’s the application the technology is most synonymous with.

Ex-Apple engineers pave the way for next-gen self-driving car sensors

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Aeva
It's like a Lidar crossed with an iPod.
Photo: Aeva

Apple still hasn’t publicly revealed whether it’s working on an autonomous car, but a company started by former Apple engineers certainly is.

Opening up about its plans, startup Aeva has revealed that it is building a smart sensor that will help self-driving cars make sense of the world. And, from its sleek design to its mix of hardware and software magic, it totally looks like the kind of product Apple would design and make!

Apple’s self-driving Lexus gets caught on camera

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Apple Car
Apple's first self-driving Lexus.
Photo: Bloomberg

Apple’s self-driving cars have been spotted in the wild for the first time, giving fans an early peek at the tech that could change roads forever.

The California DMV issued a permit to Apple earlier this month allowing it to test its self-driving cars on public roads. Apple is only registered to drive three Lexus cars around Silicon Valley, but the company is wasting no time in its efforts to catch up to the competition.

How to spot Apple’s self-driving cars in the wild

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tim cook in a car
Tim Cook and Apple are getting serious about the auto industry.
Photo: Tim Cook/Twitter

Apple finally received permission from the California DMW to test self-driving cars on public roads this week, but spotting an Apple Car in the wild won’t be easy for fans.

Instead of making its own automobile for the streets, Apple will simply be testing its autonomous vehicle software using other company’s cars. Apple has permission to drive only three cars, so seeing them on the road might be tough.

Here’s what to look for.

Mystery vans likely making 3-D road maps for Apple’s self-driving car

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apple van
Mysterious unmarked vans roaming the Bay Area have been linked to Apple, and are likely generating detailed 3D maps for robot cars.
Photo: Business Insider/Stephen Smith

Some new data-gathering vehicles are roaming the streets of San Francisco. They’re unmarked, but are suspected to be Apple’s. They are laden with sensors, but what kind of data are they gathering, and what for?

Experts contacted by Cult of Mac say the mystery vans are next-generation mapping vehicles capable of capturing VR-style, 360-degree street photos. Plus, the vans use Lidar to create extraordinarily precise “point clouds,” a prerequisite for self-driving cars. Mesh those two databases together and you’ve laid the groundwork for an autonomous vehicle’s navigation system.

Mysterious Apple minivans are mapping vehicles, experts say

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What are the LIDAR units doing on this Apple van? Photo: AppleInsider video
What are the LIDAR units doing on this Apple van? Photo: AppleInsider video

The mysterious Apple minivans roaming the roads in California, Florida and elsewhere are generally assumed to be self-driving cars, but they are not. They are almost undoubtedly collecting data for maps.

They are “almost certainly a mapping vehicle,” said Paul Godsmark, chief technology officer with the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence, who examined photos of the mystery vehicles at Cult of Mac’s request.