Apple's mysterious vans are almost certainly for 3D mapping, not autonomous driving

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  • Reply 41 of 65
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member

    In California is DMV information, such as who owns what license plate, public information or contained?

     

    If the latter, and that's what I remember, they're never going to get anything more than "Sources at the DMV say", on anonymous background.... which isn't all that "proof" IMHO.

  • Reply 42 of 65
    I agree. The vans are for street level mapping of urban areas. Apple's 3D maps are not very good at that level. Having up to date images of store fronts and objects on sidewalks fits well with their plans for indoor mapping of shopping malls. Hopefully they are driving the vans around the parking lots of open malls since currently Maps has no way to direct you to an individual store and some of those malls are vast. I spent 30 minutes search for a restaurant in one outdoor mall I was unfamiliar with.
  • Reply 43 of 65

    It's a mapping vehicle.  Take a look at this all-in-one system.  I have heard that it runs off of a Mac Mini that is enclosed in the body of the system.  You can see the similarities.

     

    http://www.mandli.com/maverick/

    image

     

     

    image

  • Reply 44 of 65
    palegolaspalegolas Posts: 1,283member
    Apple hires a fleet of cars equipped with a lot of cameras. It's probably for precise street level 3D mapping.
    Ok great.. Gotcha.. Next story..
  • Reply 45 of 65
    satchmosatchmo Posts: 2,699member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GrangerFX View Post



    Having up to date images of store fronts and objects on sidewalks fits well with their plans for indoor mapping of shopping malls. Hopefully they are driving the vans around the parking lots of open malls since currently Maps has no way to direct you to an individual store and some of those malls are vast. I spent 30 minutes search for a restaurant in one outdoor mall I was unfamiliar with.

     

    Makes perfect sense to further grow the iBeacon platform.

    My guess is Apple will cede the greater mapping market to Google, but wants control of store-level environments. Targeted advertising based on proximity will be a boon to iAds. Who knows, maybe this is the killer app for the AppleWatch.

  • Reply 46 of 65

    If this is a 3D mapping vehicle, I don't see why Apple doesn't mark their mapping vehicles like Google or Microsoft does.  It would save a lot of time and effort of the people that don't have anything else to do except make up useless rumors.  I'll certainly be happy to see some Apple Map Street View which is one of the most enjoyable features of Google Maps.  Maybe Apple will catch up to Google eventually but they're probably not as committed to mapping as Google is.  Google is mapping everything, everywhere.  This Apple mapping is probably just another one of Apple's pet hobbies.  There's probably only so many full-fledged projects Apple can work on at a time with limited staff.  Whenever it's ready, it's ready.  It'll be a nice surprise when it shows up one day in the future.

  • Reply 47 of 65
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    This is how Navteq does it:

     

  • Reply 48 of 65
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,428member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

     

    Vector-based street view?




    Likely. It would compliment their 3D Flyover mode which is already vector based (polygonal wireframe modeling).

  • Reply 49 of 65
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    I haven't read any of the comments so I apologize if the following has already been mentioned…

    I'd like to have a site or page that details where and when these vehicles have been spotted so we can get an idea of how much may have been mapped. Even a partial license plate number (and state if not CA) might be helpful to know just how many vehicles they have.

    With FlyOver the number of planes and flights, then post processing seems to be highly limited when I think of how slowly it's rolled out and how few cities are still represented, but with these vehicle [S]I would hope[/S] I could see Apple working out all the logistics and then creating a huge fleet of vehicles to get this done quickly. The vans could potentially even be processing and uploading the data on the go; perhaps not in real time, but fast enough that they don't need to do it all as a separate process days, weeks or months down the road.
  • Reply 50 of 65
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    mstone wrote: »

    Seeing the graphical overlay in motion tells me it would be possible to intelligently remove the pedestrians, cars, and other non-essential data from the final map in post.
  • Reply 51 of 65
    Wait, so you're telling me this means Apple is [I]not[/I] using these vans to track down and abscond with Tesla employees?
  • Reply 52 of 65
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by coolfactor View Post

     

    I think a van covered in cameras should have some identifying marks on them... seems awfully sneaky to be driving an anonymous van around recording everything it sees.... Google StreetView cars are highly visible. How about the other companies?


     

    uh no. when one is in the public right of way one is open to being recording in public.

  • Reply 53 of 65
    GrangerFX wrote: »
    I agree. The vans are for street level mapping of urban areas. Apple's 3D maps are not very good at that level. Having up to date images of store fronts and objects on sidewalks fits well with their plans for indoor mapping of shopping malls. Hopefully they are driving the vans around the parking lots of open malls since currently Maps has no way to direct you to an individual store and some of those malls are vast. I spent 30 minutes search for a restaurant in one outdoor mall I was unfamiliar with.

    Weird ...

    We owned a Computer store at Fremont and Mary in Sunnyvale, CA.

    It was less than a mile from Apple HQ (then at Stevens Creek and De Anza in Cupertino).

    When Apple 3D mapped the Cupertino area, I naturally checked to see what the store location looked like in 3D.


    It looked pretty good -- I was able to get quite a low angle and zoom on the front of the store -- though, I couldn't read any signs.

    I tried, just now, and it looks really sucky -- the building fronts are all distorted, the trees are a mess -- and I could only get about a 35ª angle and couldn't zoom in very close ...

    What gives?


    I noticed a similar thing at the El Tovar Lodge Grand Canyon, AZ -- I could get lower and zoom closer -- than I can today:


    [VIDEO]
  • Reply 54 of 65
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismY View Post



    The vans could potentially even be processing and uploading the data on the go; perhaps not in real time, but fast enough that they don't need to do it all as a separate process days, weeks or months down the road.

    I think the size of the data would preclude any realtime uploading. Perhaps at the end of the day when they return to a fiber optic linked connection. Even the realtime preprocessing seems unlikely to me because I doubt it is completely automated. I'd be surprised if there was not a huge monitor and a workstation required for stitching everything together, much like what was shown in the Navteq video.

  • Reply 55 of 65
    mstone wrote: »

    Great video ... Thx!

    Nokia bought Navteq in 2007 for $8.1 Billion -- from what I understand, it has only lost money ...

    http://www.cnet.com/news/nokia-buys-navteq/#!

    Hmmm ...
  • Reply 56 of 65
    elrothelroth Posts: 1,201member



    Wow, Stop The Presses! Rob Enderle is wrong regarding Apple.

  • Reply 57 of 65
    misamisa Posts: 827member
    xixo wrote: »
    Seems like drones would be cheaper.

    Kind of like those scanner-bots in the movie Prometheus - send them out, let them criss-cross over a range of terrain then return to home.

    Maybe not cheaper at first, but you're going to be doing this repeatedly over time.

    Then again people would freak out at the idea of "iBots" flying over streets collecting data.

    Just a matter of time.

    Drones can't carry the required weight to have all those sensors. Where drones would be MUCH more helpful is in mapping the exteriors of buildings for something like http://www.nacgeo.com/nacsite/documents/nac.asp , thus enabling a kind of 3D-postal code for things like drones to deliver packages directly to building's that have a porch or deck without the security implications of waiting at the door. Think how much faster you'd get a pizza if it went straight from the pizza place to your 30th floor condo. Think about the fuel/GHG savings of not having to drive delivery vans into the boonies. Just drive the delivery truck to the center of town, and let the drones deliver the rest.

    Like there is a practical application for delivery drones, but it's for high-rises, not door-to-door.
  • Reply 58 of 65

    Wow and I just thought I was being followed last week when a White Van with the same Antenna Array turned around in our court.

     

    Hope they fix our house address and location! It is wrong in both in Apple "Maps" and "Google Maps" and I have tried to send both companies information to fix it. The reporting system I found online is just about useless to connect to all the Map agencies and get a update posted.  

     

    SF East Bay Pleasanton:

  • Reply 59 of 65
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,367member
    Or consumer VideoTape format:

    BetaMax - Better Video and Sound quality

    VHS - Two-hour Capacity


    ... Good enough wins

    I take you point although I'd argue Beta didn't totally lose, it simply went professional when it had to cede the mass market to low quality but cheap VHS. If 'Good enough' always wins, Android would have killed iOS.
  • Reply 60 of 65
    bchar wrote: »
    Wow and I just thought I was being followed last week when a White Van with the same Antenna Array turned around in our court.

    SF East Bay Pleasanton:

    If it's anything like our court (little further East Bay than you) ...

    The trash and recyclables had just been picked up, and the containers were still on the street, blocking the curbs and gutters ...

    It was only the Street Sweeper making his weekly pass doing wheelies at top speed down the center of the street ...:\
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