Apple’s secretive automotive project has flown under the radar over the past several months after news leaked that the company was granted permission to test a self-driving car platform and entered the race to develop autonomous cars — but that doesn’t mean that the cars stopped roving the roads to gather data.
Higgins is more than just a casual Apple fan, however — he’s a robotics engineer and happens to be a co-founder of Voyage, a self-driving startup that recently launched its own pilot program in San Jose.
Higgins referred to Apple’s rumored internal codename for its long-gestating auto program, Project Titan, and called the bulky, plastic-encased setup “The Thing.” The rig appears to be outfitted with six LIDAR sensors, along with a slew of cameras and radar units.
Higgins believes there’s a reason the setup is so bulky. He thinks most of the compute stack, which interprets the data collected by its sensors, is up on the roof. Those systems are typically stored in the trunks of other self-driving prototypes.
But Higgins’ video was just one look at the rig. One of his followers shared an image that appears to a Lexus SUV sporting the same setup. He claims he snapped the photo at one of the company’s campus shuttle stops, which would make it all the more likely that the vehicle is one of the three test cars.
I saw one of these a few weeks ago pull up to an Apple shuttle stop-sit there for a few then drove off. pic.twitter.com/gUudZY1TIA
— idiggapple (@idiggapple) October 18, 2017
The new setup looks to be much different than what that we saw back in April. If both of the SUVs were truly Apple’s, the company has clearly put the work in to develop its platform, quashing rumors that Project Titan had devolved to be nothing more than an autonomous shuttle bus for employees as a report claimed in August.