A new video obtained by AppleInsider on Monday reveals more detail on Apple's camera-equipped minivans, with views of the interior showing at least two people man the vehicles during testing operations.
In the short video seen above, sent in by AppleInsider reader Peter, a white Dodge Caravan driving through Coral Springs, Fla., sports the same peculiar roof-mounted equipment array seen on other vehicles linked to an internal Apple program.
Today's video is one of the first to show the van's interior while in operation, where at least one passenger can be seen interacting with a small handheld device thought to be an iPad mini. The footage fails to show the tablet's screen, but it can be assumed that the device connects with onboard testing or surveying equipment as a data reader or command and control module. As seen in the video, the driver quickly hides the device from view when alerted to the camera's presence.
Automobile manufacturers take a similar approach when road testing new vehicles. A two-man team usually takes a long cross-country route to test various predefined data points, including gas mileage, unforeseen manufacturing issues and overall performance. Both a driver and passenger are usually required for testing.
As for the Apple vans, early speculation claimed the company was working on an autonomous self-driving car in the vein of cutting-edge products from Tesla and experimental cars from Google. Considering that the mysterious vans have been spotted across the U.S., importantly in states that would require special permits for self-driving vehicles, Apple's project is more likely aimed an advanced mapping initiative.
The first vans were first spotted last week in the San Francisco Bay Area, with follow-up sightings in Hawaii, Wisconsin and Panama.