If Fairfield County residents suddenly begin to feel that they are being watched by strangers, they are not being paranoid – indeed, the streets in their neighborhoods are being quietly photographed by Apple Maps vehicles. However, the reasons for this activity are open to debate.
The company announced that it will be active throughout Connecticut from May 8 to 21 in an effort to expand the content of its Apple Maps site. “Some of this data will be published in future Apple Maps updates,” the company said on its website, adding that faces and license plates will be blurred on all published photographs. Apple has already conducted photographic surveys of 30 states and several European countries.
But the website AppleInsider questioned the motives behind this endeavor. “It is not clear what Apple will ultimately use the data for,” wrote Mike Wuerthele, a contributing editor. “Speculation exists that the data is being collected to aid in Apple’s autonomous driving project. However, Connecticut has a ban on autonomous vehicles, so it would seem more likely that a focus for early driving system intelligence gathering would be in states that allow autonomous cars to be tested on its roads.”
Neil Cybart, an independent Apple analyst at Above Avalon, told the MacRumors website that Apple was mapping out roadways around the nation to aid in Project Titan, the company’s automotive endeavor. “My view is that this mapping data isn’t just for Apple Maps Street View, which wouldn’t be too useful, but rather for building a mapping foundation for Apple’s autonomous driving technology platform,” said Cybart, who spotted an Apple Maps vehicle in Connecticut last week and theorized that the data collected by Apple “may be used for testing autonomous driving technology using indoor simulation.”