Apple's autonomous prototype spotted with new sensor rack?
The sensor package is more refined, with no Velodyne lidar pucks.
Apple's self-driving prototype cars may have received an upgraded sensor suite.
Photos posted by The Last Driver License Holder show a Lexus crossover outfitted with a more streamlined electronics package on the roof rack. The sensors are tucked away neatly behind a protective rim.Images that surfaced in 2017 showed a much different configuration with more than a dozen Velodyne lidar 'pucks' prominently placed around the edge.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the latest pictures. The vehicle was the same type known to be used by Apple and it was spotted near the company's headquarters in Cupertino. It is unclear if it was being operated by Apple or one of the many other companies testing autonomous tech in California, though it does share the same rear-bumper modifications as seen on earlier Apple prototypes.
The lack of Velodyne pucks should not be viewed as solid evidence that Apple is following Tesla's lead and moving away from lidar. The tinted sensor covers are consistent with germanium windows that allow infrared light to pass through. It is also plausible that the test vehicle may be collecting detailed mapping data, rather than serving as a self-driving prototype. Windshield glare in the latest photos makes it difficult to see if the driver has his hands on the wheel.
Apple's 'Project Titan' self-driving initiative is being led by veteran executive Doug Field as the company attempts to bring the technology to market, reportedly focusing on the software aspect rather than developing a vehicle in-house.