Zoinks! Is that Mystery Machine Apple's SELF-DRIVING FAMILY WAGON? You decide

Ruh-roh, Google…

A dark blue van rented by Apple has been fitted with cameras and is roaming the streets of northern California.

According to CBS SF Bay Area, the Cupertino goliath is behind a mystery vehicle spotted in the city of Concord, east of San Francisco.

The Dodge minivan, which Department of Motor Vehicles documents show is leased to Apple, has four cameras mounted to it and an antenna. The cams are point out at the streets around it. According to a Concord blog, the minivan has been spotted in New York, too.

"It didn’t have any markings on the sides of it or anything. I couldn’t figure out what it was,” Concord resident Melissa Lewis told her local TV station.

Apple, true to form, is not issuing any comment on the matter, but speculation is that the company could be working alone or in part with an automaker to build a self-driving car, or a Google Street View competitor, or anything else really.

However, it's claimed the van has "too many cameras": tech analyst Rob Enderle told CBS the cams are pointing down at the road, suggesting it's not for mapping but for self-driving software.

Should Apple indeed be testing a self-driving car, it would go into direct competition with the likes of Google and Tesla. The web ad giant is developing an autonomous road car, while Elon Musk's Tesla is implementing self-driving features into its latest line of sedans.

Unofficial taxi app maker Uber is also looking to enter the autonomous car game: the upstart is said to be building a facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, tasked with developing a fleet of self-driving cabs.

While Apple is giving its competitors a head-start in the self-driving car game, the company does have a mountain of cash at its disposal. Its latest quarter was the largest ever recorded, financially, netting the firm an eye-wattering $18bn in profit in three months. ®


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