Apple‘s CEO Tim Cook recently teased some large project Apple has underway, one that in some way involves autonomous technology, and that makes the company’s recent spat of job openings particularly interesting. Apple is hiring dozens of map technology experts for reasons that aren’t stated, but that are speculated to involve, at minimum, its autonomous efforts.
As recently noted by CNBC, Apple has had more than six dozen job postings on its jobs website over the last month, all of them seeking map technology experts with skills in areas like ‘Fleet management’ and ‘Navigational aids.’ The hiring spree indicates some big push behind closed doors, ones the company is being careful to keep under wraps.
Though at first glance it may seem that Apple would hire tech experts for its Apple Maps product, that’s not likely the case here given the huge number of positions the company is filling. Instead, it’s likely we’re seeing an expansion of its experts who will be tasked with its secretive autonomous technologies product. Whether that involves automotive systems is yet to be seen, however.
During the company’s call with shareholders yesterday, Cook stated that Apple has a big project in the works, but that it isn’t revealing much of anything at this time. Cook did say, however, that autonomous technology isn’t limited to automotive applications, indicating the company may be developing systems that can be used for things beyond self-driving cars.
What kind of things Cook may have been referring to isn’t known. It is possible the autonomous technology may find its way into consumer devices, but it is just as possible it will be used for commercial robotics or drones. Autonomous systems aren’t the only technology that could benefit from mapping experts, though.
This technology is also vital for augmented reality, something Apple has also been pursuing. We’ve seen many patents surface from Apple that involve AR systems, the most recent of which included a pair of smart glasses that would show points of interest overlaid onto the environment. Late last year, Apple was granted a patent for an augmented reality maps app that, in that case, could use the AR technology to overlay info and points of interest onto real-time videos being taken by an iPhone’s camera.
Still, it’s difficult to say what the company is up to; it’s possible Apple is hiring experts to deal with mapping technologies for multiple products, which may explain the huge number of openings.