New Apple SUVs With Expansive Autonomous Driving LIDAR Setup Spotted on the Road

Apple has had several Lexus SUVs equipped with sensors and cameras out on the road to test its self-driving software platform since April, but MacRumors reader Amy, who lives near one of Apple's offices in Sunnyvale, California, recently spotted one of Apple's Lexus SUVs with a new LIDAR setup.

Amy sees Apple's autonomous SUVs on a regular basis in the Sunnyvale area, which was previously rumored to be the spot where Apple is conducting all of its "Project Titan" research. The Lexus in question is parked directly outside of Apple's Sunnyvale location.

lexussuvselfdriving2
The vehicle has a different LIDAR arrangement than we've seen previously, with far more sensors and cameras at the top. Apple also appears to have added new Lexus models to its testing fleet. Prior vehicles spotted were 2015 Lexus 450h SUVs, while this vehicle is a 2016 or 2017 Lexus 450h with a new design.


It isn't immediately clear what function the additional LIDAR sensors serve, but Apple is using these vehicles to test its self-driving software platform that's in development. Other LIDAR arrangements have also been spotted atop Apple's SUVs.

applelexusselfdriving4
As can be seen in the photos and video, there are two main LIDAR setups at the front and the back of the vehicle, each surrounded by four other components laden with sensors and cameras.

applelexusselfdriving6
The LIDAR systems on the car are designed to send out laser beams to allow the car to accurately detect its surroundings, essentially creating a 3D map of the environment around the vehicle.

applelexusselfdriving1
GPS sensors allow the car to orient itself relative to its surroundings, helped along by radars located at the front and back of the car to measure distances to objects and wheel sensors to measure wheel movements. Cameras located near the LIDAR sensors let the car detect traffic lights, people, cars, and other moving objects.

It's a highly complex system, and Apple's SUVs are collecting enormous amounts of data every second and then processing it with Apple's unique software to pilot the car.

applelexsusselfdriving5
While Apple is testing self-driving vehicles, there are people in the vehicles at all times ready to take over should something go wrong. The photos we're sharing today clearly depict both a driver and a passenger monitoring the car's progress.

Apple's car project started off with the company planning to develop a complete autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle, but internal strife, leadership issues, and other problems led Apple to shift focus.

Under the leadership of Apple's Bob Mansfield, the company is now working on an autonomous driving platform that could potentially be used in third-party vehicles.

Along with the SUVs, rumors suggest Apple will soon test its self-driving technology in a self-driving campus shuttle designed to ferry Apple employees between different Apple offices in the Bay Area.

Related Roundup: Apple Car

Top Rated Comments

AngerDanger Avatar
58 months ago
Well, if I ever get something terribly ugly installed on top of my car, I can just say I'm part of Apple's autonomous vehicle program to save face.



Attachment Image
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheTruth101 Avatar
58 months ago
There is just no way this is for autonomous driving. They are up to something else here, we just don't know what yet. That is a ridiculous overkill of sensors for autonomous driving.
When designing something you have redundancy. Pretty sure there are several different technologies being tested at same time. Then you can start creating the final product.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Crzyrio Avatar
58 months ago
There is just no way this is for autonomous driving. They are up to something else here, we just don't know what yet. That is a ridiculous overkill of sensors for autonomous driving.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
garirry Avatar
58 months ago
There's nothing I love more than video shot vertically.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
star_nerdy Avatar
58 months ago
Looks like a really crappy Transformer
So one with Mark Wahlberg?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lkrupp Avatar
58 months ago
I'm not buying that self driving cars are just around the corner. Spend some time on big city thoroughfares and Interstate highways, and watch the lunacy that takes place when human drivers decide you are driving too slow for them. How any AI will be able to deal with the mental cases that inhabit powerful automobiles is anathema to me.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Upcoming Products 2022 Feature

Gurman: Apple Preparing 'Widest Array of New Hardware Products in Its History' for Fall

Sunday January 23, 2022 10:32 am PST by
Apple is working on a number of new products that are set to launch this fall, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that it will be "the widest array" of new devices that Apple has introduced in its history. In his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explains that Apple is working on four new flagship iPhones (iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max), an updated low-end Ma...
macbook pro 14 16 2021

Three Months After Launch, Apple Still Struggling to Meet Demand for Redesigned 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pro

Monday January 24, 2022 7:12 am PST by
Three months after their launch, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros continue to experience high demand and seemingly short supply, with shipping dates for both models stretching into multiple weeks in several of Apple's key markets. In the United States, the baseline 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip is estimated to ship in three to four weeks, promising an arrival by at least...
General Dropbox Feature

macOS 12.3 Will Include Cloud Storage Changes Affecting Dropbox and OneDrive

Tuesday January 25, 2022 3:31 pm PST by
Dropbox today announced that users who update to macOS 12.3 once that software version becomes available may temporarily encounter issues with opening online-only files in some third-party apps on their Mac. In a support document and an email to customers, Dropbox said it is actively working on full support for online-only files on macOS 12.3 and will begin rolling out an updated version of...
Questionable Design Decisions

Apple's Most Questionable Design Decisions in Recent Memory

Sunday January 23, 2022 2:59 am PST by
Apple has always emphasized the depth of thought that goes into the design of its products. In the foreword to Designed by Apple in California, a photo book released by the company in 2016, Jony Ive explains how Apple strives "to define objects that appear effortless" and "so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative." But every once in a while even Apple...
Apple Watch Red Yellow Green Feature 1

Apple Launches Black Unity Braided Solo Loop With 'Unity Lights' Watch Face

Wednesday January 26, 2022 6:05 am PST by
Apple today announced the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop for the Apple Watch, as well as a new downloadable watch face, to celebrate Black History Month. Following the launch of the limited edition Black Unity Apple Watch Series 6 and Sport Band in 2021, Apple today launched the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop as part of its celebrations for Black History Month this year.Apple is launching a...
att gigabit internet

AT&T Bringing $180/Month 5-Gigabit Internet to 70 Cities

Monday January 24, 2022 9:20 am PST by
AT&T today announced the launch of upgraded AT&T Fiber plans, which support speeds of up to 5 Gigabits for some customers. There are two separate plans, one "2 GIG" plan and one "5 GIG" plan, available to new and existing AT&T Fiber subscribers. According to AT&T, the new plans are available to nearly 5.2 million customers across 70 metro areas including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, San...
intel vs m1 max chip purple

Benchmarks Confirm Intel's Latest Core i9 Chip Outperforms Apple's M1 Max With Several Caveats

Wednesday January 26, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Benchmark results have started to surface for MSI's new GE76 Raider, one of the first laptops to be powered by Intel's new 12th-generation Core i9 processor. Intel previously said that its new high-end Core i9 processor is faster than Apple's M1 Max chip in the 16-inch MacBook Pro and, as noted by Macworld, early Geekbench 5 results do appear to confirm this claim, but there are several...
ios 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 With Fix for Safari Bug That Leaks Browsing Activity

Wednesday January 26, 2022 10:00 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3, the third major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.3 come almost two weeks after the release of iOS and iPadOS 15.2.1, minor bug fix updates. The iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in ...