Remember those camera-toting minivans which were spotted in the Bay Area and in Brooklyn a few weeks back?
Another one has been spotted this past week in Palo Alto. MacRumors has posted a smartphone video which shows a silver minivan with the tell-tale camera rig on top and wheel sensors on the side.
We know even less about this van than we do about the earlier vans, but as you can see in the video below, it was spotted going down a 1-way street next to a park. There’s at least one person at the wheel, and there’s another reported sighting (backed up with a photo) which says that the passenger seat was occupied as well.
What’s more, there’s an unconfirmed sighting in San Diego, thus putting the camera vans in 3 metro areas in the US.
There’s very little in the way of new solid info on just what these vans are doing, but over the past couple weeks numerous leaked rumors have been keeping the blogosphere entertained.
Business insider got the ball rolling last Monday when it shared details from an unnamed Apple employee which said that the smartphone maker was going to give Tesla a run for its money. The WSJ chimed in on Friday with the report that Apple is secretly working to challenge Tesla:
The Cupertino, Calif., company has several hundred employees working secretly toward creating an Apple-branded electric vehicle, according to people familiar with the matter. The project, code-named “Titan,” initially is working on the design of a vehicle that resembles a minivan, one of the people said.
Reuters spoke up on Saturday with their own source which reportedly confirmed the existence of the project and added that one of Apple’s goals was autonomous driving:
“They don’t appear to want a lot of help from carmakers,” said the source, who declined to be named.
Apple is gathering advice on parts and production methods, focusing on electric and connected-car technologies, while studying the potential for automated driving, the source said.
And then the Financial Times jumped in with its own sources which confirm much of what the others are saying.
Apple is of course saying nothing on the topic, but I think it’s safe to conclude that Apple has a secret car project in the works.
Whether that Project Titan has anything to do with the minivans driving around, now that’s a different story. Given that similar vans have been spotted in 3 metro areas, it is more likely that the minivan shown below is part of a street-mapping project – just like reader The Commons suggested when I reported on the last sightings a couple weeks ago.