If you’re one of our few regular readers who doesn’t get blackout drunk on fuel injector cleaner every night, then it’s possible you’ll remember these pictures of what appears to be the new Toyota Supra in prototype disguise. You also may recall that we pointed out something that appeared to be a small camera. It wasn’t. But now we know what they are.

Here’s the thing in question:


Now, initially, we thought this was some sort of small camera, possibly used for testing lane departure systems, or perhaps some sort of assisted driving technology. I was just guessing.

Turns out, I was completely wrong. It’s not a camera at all. According to an anonymous employee at an unnamed car maker, here’s what we’re looking at:

“I don’t think that “camera” is a camera at all, I think it is an ambient temperature sensor. It’s difficult to tell from the photos but I think what you are seeing is literally a piece of PVC pipe with a hole drilled in the side for a thermocouple. Such a setup allows for a simple and accurate way of measuring the ambient temperature around the vehicle. The PVC pipe protects the thermocouple from the sun while allowing plenty of nice cool air to flow over the thermocouple, as opposed to hot engine air which typically surrounds most ambient temperature sensors on production cars... Accurate ambient temperature can be useful in calibrating a prototype vehicle.”


I did a bit of looking around and, yep, you see these things on a number of disguised prototype cars.


So, now you won’t be fooled! Those aren’t cameras taking video, they’re thermocouples taking the temperature of the air, very carefully, since, unlike people, air lacks mouths or anuses or armpits into which you can shove a thermometer.

The more you know!