Apple mystery van spotted in San Diego

Another Apple mystery van has been spotted in San Diego.

Most pundits theorize that the vans are collecting data and imagery for Apple Maps’ version of “Street View.”

The vans have also been spotted in San Francisco and New York, leading observers to expect a “big cities” rollout of whatever Apple will call their version of “Street View.”

This particular van was spotted in San Diego by reader Nick Penna:

Apple mystery van in San Diego area (photo by Nick Penna)
Apple mystery van in San Diego area (photo by Nick Penna)

Related articles:
Apple trying ‘very hard’ to nab Tesla engineers as mystery van sightings proliferate – February 6, 2015
Apple abduction: Tesla has hired more workers from Apple than from anyplace else – February 5, 2015
Apple testing mysterious camera-equipped vehicles – February 4, 2015
U.S. patent application reveals Apple is working on ‘Street View’ mapping technology – April 4, 2013


  1. I live in Los Angeles. I’ve lately been seeing a brick red colored van around town with a camera on top of it. But it has a sign on the side of it that says “Bing”. So, I guess everybody’s jumping on the street view bandwagon.

  2. Google said Apple would never succeed with maps cause it’s not something you can just get into without a vast experience like theirs….

    Put your Google glass on Tmole and brin, youre about to get a lessson…

    1. I’m sure Eric Schmidt will have a lot to say about Apple not being able to come to close to Google in mapping. After all mapping and data collection is part of Google’s DNA.

      Right now, Apple is probably trialing this street view mapping vehicle and eventually they’ll dig into their cash hoard and launch the largest vehicle mapping fleet under the sun. In a couple of years they may actually catch up to Google with a fleet of say, a thousand vehicles. I just want to see Apple give Google a run for the money.

      I wish they’d get some vehicle for doing bike paths, too. We’ve got the Greenway System project going here in all the boroughs of NYC and I’d sure like to have some views of the bike paths I haven’t covered. I’m going to have a busy summer attempting to ride them all.

    2. a. Nothing whatsoever to link this to Apple.
      b. 9/10 times Apple Maps has a blank space next to an area I know has a plaza or whathaveyou – which google maps shows in detail.
      Apple is getting the lesson, not google.

      1. No link? Then why was at least one of these vehicles was reported to have been shown to have been leased to Apple? If that report was found to be wrong fine, but haven’t heard anything to that effect (maybe I missed it) so please do inform us of your information to the contrary please.

        From my perspective after a rocky start Apples map efforts have come on massively and they certainly showed Google how to do vector maps I believe.

  3. That’s not an Apple van! That’s The Cat Detector Van from Monty Python, obviously. 😉

    Seriously, that is an imaging van, intended to take ‘VR’ images of its surroundings such that a person can spin 360º to take in any point on a map then pick a hot point to proceed along a path. As has been noted, Google Maps has had this feature for years. Hopefully Apple will make the image stitching and navigation a bit more friendly and accurate than Google’s. Their version remains clunky, albeit a nice bit of pioneering.

    1. “Their version remains clunky, albeit a nice bit of pioneering.”

      Your not giving Google credit for inventing image-based virtual environment navigation, are you?

      We were doing that with QuickTime VR as far back as 1994.

      1. Completely agree! QTVR has been consistently ripped off ever since. I wish Apple themselves were doing more with it. And now they are!

        But Google did apply it on a larger scale. I can (clunkily) drive down major streets of London via Google Earth (which BTW Google did NOT invent, but did elaborate upon). Apple’s catching up in that respect.

    2. Thats certainly the point, I very rarely use Street View even if the idea has merit, simply because it is so clunky, awkward and frustrating that it almost invents a new term for bad interface design. It has all the sophistication of a supermarket trolley in terms of navigation and usually far less useful. To be fair it was trying to develop and perfect a very complex problem but if this is truly the best that can be done with the concept then in all honesty I wish they had never bothered. Lets hope that (if true) Apple have found a way of actually making it something more than a perpetual beta quality product.

  4. If Apple is planning to do this elsewhere in the world, one problem that they will have to overcome is that Google were seen to abuse people’s privacy by illegally snooping on personal WiFi data. Furthermore, people were not happy to find out that the Google cars were able to publish pictures looking over their hedges, revealing views that would not have been available to pedestrians or car drivers passing by.

    In some countries, Google cars got a very hostile reception and although I have no reason to believe that Apple would collect illegal data like Google did, many people will assume that Apple are just as bad as Google and to be treated with suspicion.

    For instance, in a country like Germany, many residents resented the intrusion by Google cars. Why would those people feel that another American company should also drive around intruding on their privacy ? They would ask just how many different street maps need to exist ?

  5. If this really is Apple, it’s interesting to me that they’d use that van. They’re all about environmental impact, and Google uses a fleet of Priuses. They shouldn’t willingly be outdone by Google.

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