Map data-collecting cars for Apple spotted in HCMC

By Luu Quy   March 6, 2024 | 05:04 pm PT
Map data-collecting cars for Apple spotted in HCMC
A car that collects map data for Apple is spotted on the streets of HCMC, March 5, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Vu Hai
Cars equipped with imaging devices have been seen on the streets of HCMC as they collected map data for Apple.

Nguyen Duc, a local, said he saw such a car in a neighborhood of Binh Chanh District the previous week. The car garnered attention from passersby due to its numerous lenses installed on its roof. Duc only saw such a car once on the road.

"Maybe the road was wide, not populated, and the lenses were good, so the car was running fast," he said.

Vu Hai also saw a similar car on Tuesday. However, its cameras were lowered and covered in black plastic sheets instead.

Cars that collect map data for Apple have been operating in Vietnam since Feb. 16, with their first destination being HCMC. The first phase of the data collection process is expected to be completed at the end of this year.

The equipment on the cars include a set of eight cameras with Zeiss lenses, GPS systems, LiDAR imaging devices and laser sensors.

The data would be processed in real-time by Mac Pro devices installed on the car. A modified iPad, called an EyeDrive, is used to monitor the imaging process and instruct drivers on where to go next.

The data collected can then be uploaded by Apple to its Look Around functionality on its map application. Apple said it would protect people's privacy by measures such as blurring out faces and license plates.

As announced on Apple’s websites, the cars would appear in certain central Vietnam localities like Ha Tinh, Nghe An, Khanh Hoa and Da Nang from March 5 to Aug. 30. The cars would be in northern Vietnam regions starting March 8, in localities like Hanoi, Hai Phong and Nam Dinh. They would then move to the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta in July.

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