All indications seem to point to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) trying to take the battle straight to Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) in terms of the driverless car technology. A camera mounted minivan has been spotted driving around San Francisco with four- camera rig mounted on the roof. The Department of Motor Vehicles has already clarified that the vehicle was indeed leased to Apple.
Initial reports suggested that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was planning to jump into the driverless car space though the company has not yet been issued with permits for such a vehicle. Collaborations with other groups with permits seem to be the only likelihood especially with the likes of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon University. Apple has however not confirmed whether it was working on such a project.
The rumors of a driverless car being developed by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) have been accelerated by reports that a number of Tesla’s employees had jumped ship to work on the new project. It is being speculated that Apple’s new project remains quite exciting and expected to give Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) a run for its money on the luxury end.
Business Insider reports that up to 50 former Tesla employees have joined Apple in the recent past, to spearhead efforts for the new project. Many of the hires were engineers who had worked at the giant electric company and specialized in mechanic’s robotics as well as manufacturing.
Not everyone is being carried away by the driverless car rumors. Dhruv Batra and assistant professor at Virginia Techs maintains the 12 cameras wired around the minivans, as well as the spinning cylinder, look like Velodyne LiDAR’s suggesting Apple was only studying the environment around the car. The professor maintains the car does not have all the properties and equipment to be self-driving.
Speculation is also rife that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) may be trying to develop an alternative to Google’s Street View thus the testing of the cameras. Other possibilities could be Apple trying to better the experience between cars and iPhones such as controlling car’s entertainment system straight from a smartphone.