It has been a while since the tech community got news about Apple’s self-driving car project, also known as the secretive Project Titan. Now, a video of Apple’s sensors mounted on top of an SUV was caught in the wild and uploaded to Twitter this Wednesday.
The user happens to be none other than MacCallister Higgins, the co-founder of another driverless vehicle firm called Voyage. They are much smaller than Google or Uber’s projects, but they know what they are talking about when they look at the sensor array on top of the Lexus crossover roaming California.
Apple reportedly dropped the idea of making an entire driverless vehicle from scratch almost a year ago. After parting ways with the “Apple Car,” Cupertino focused on Project Titan, which is about developing self-driving systems for cars like other third parties in the market.
Going to need more than 140 characters to go over ?'s Project Titan. I call it "The Thing" pic.twitter.com/sLDJd7iYSa
— MacCallister Higgins (@macjshiggins) October 17, 2017
Apple’s sensor array is sporting old and new hardware
At first glance, there is something strikingly Apple about the whole design of the sensor array captured on video by Higgins. “The Thing,” as he calls it, looks rudimentary in contrast to the more refined approaches seen in other vehicles, and it’s all topped by a white casing that is certainly very brand-like.
The white plastic encasing looks custom-made and it holds twelve Velodyne LIDAR sensors, several cameras all around, and at least two radars from what we can appreciate. They sit on top of the same Lexus RX450h SUV that Apple has used in past months.
Project Titan’s last sighting before Wednesday was back in April when the crossover sported all third-party sensors and components. Little seems to have changed since then, given that, from what the video allows us to see, there is roughly the same number of LIDAR sensors, cameras, and radars.
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
Higgins notes, however, that Apple is probably packing the compute stack on the roof as well. Protected by the white shell on top of the SUV, the mount could also have been designed to house and hide the cables that run from the computers to the sensors and vice versa.
As is expected from the tech giant, nobody knows how the testing is carried out from within the car. At this stage, it is likely that there are human engineers tracking performance with computers of their own, but only time will tell if the company ever reveals details ahead of a proper product introduction.
Apple has been testing their proprietary self-driving systems since earlier this year, and Tim Cook himself has confirmed that there are teams in Cupertino working to develop Project Titan (no explicit name confirmation, though). It remains to be seen what the company can come up with that is both competitive and innovative.
Source: The Verge