Apple's self-driving car project has been in and out of headlines for a while now. The Cupertino tech giant has been uber-secretive about its Project Titan, and there have been a number of confusions of late in terms of whether Apple is still intent on the self-driving technology or not. However, earlier this month, the California DMV listed Apple Inc. as one of the companies that have been permitted to test autonomous cars on California roads, and now, about two weeks since the list appeared on the Internet, a Bloomberg report shows a Lexus RX450h crossover fitted with a host of stock sensors and equipment to be the first ever sighting of Apple's self-driving car.
This is the 'Apple Car'
The car in question is a seemingly initial road test for Apple to collect data, although the nature of tests is as yet unclear. The equipment fit on the car are a Velodyne 64-channel LIDAR, a host of cameras, standard sensors and radars. The equipment also does not seem to be custom-fabricated, which further means that this is only an initial testing stage of Apple's self-driving technology. The company has three Lexus RX450h and six drivers permitted by the California DMV for its autonomous vehicle road tests.
...and this is not.
Previous reports had quoted Apple's intentions of building a completely new car from scratch, but the company has reportedly shifted away from such ambitious plans to now focus on providing autonomous driving technology to carmakers. The new plan would possibly involve Apple making a complete suite of services to present autonomy to cars, along with safety, infotainment and additional services under Apple's unified software platform. The company has reportedly held talks with automakers like Volkswagen Group and BMW AG regarding the same.
California is presently the hub of all autonomous vehicle testing, and the long list of companies that test their autonomous technology around the California streets include technology giants Google and NVIDIA, carmakers Volkswagen Group, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, GM, Tesla, Honda and more, and a number of startups including Drive.ai and Faraday & Future. With Apple finally joining the party, we're sure to hear more about Apple's testing records and statistics soon, hopefully in the next quarter report from the company.