Apple's Self-Driving Car Spotted on Freeway in New Video

For the last few weeks, Apple has been testing its autonomous driving software in three Lexus RX450h SUVs, which have been photographed around the San Francisco Bay Area. This morning, MacRumors reader Andrew was able to capture some video of one of the SUVs, giving us our closest look yet at the vehicles Apple is using to test its system.

The SUV is equipped with multiple sensors and cameras, making it easy to see when it's out on the road. It uses a top-end Velodyne 64-channel lidar, two or more radar, and several cameras to navigate. The video was captured on the 101 North, with Apple's vehicle exiting towards University Avenue in Palo Alto.


Apple received a DMV permit to test autonomous vehicles on April 14 and wasted no time getting the cars out on the road. With the SUVs, which are driven by six Apple employees with expertise in autonomous vehicles, Apple is testing a self-driving vehicle system it has in development.

The company has been working on self-driving car technology for several years and was originally rumored to be planning to introduce its own Apple-branded vehicle. That didn't pan out, however, and Apple pivoted to an autonomous driving software platform being developed under the leadership of Bob Mansfield.

Apple has reportedly given its car team until the end of 2017 to prove the feasibility of an Apple-designed autonomous driving system. Such a system could allow Apple to partner with vehicle manufacturers for something akin to a much more advanced version of CarPlay, or it could be built into a future Apple vehicle should Apple decide to revisit manufacturing its own car down the road.

While Apple is notoriously secretive, its ongoing autonomous car testing will be done under the public eye. In California, companies that participate in the Autonomous Vehicle Testing Program must file Disengagement Reports that share many details on the testing process, including miles traveled and any incidents or accidents that occur.

Apple has asked the DMV to alter the rules that govern exactly what data needs to be included in public Disengagement Reports, but it is not yet known if the DMV will comply.

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Top Rated Comments

tennisproha Avatar
93 months ago
Way to be filming while driving Macrumors reader Andrew. You're the reason we need self-driving cars in the first place.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
6836838 Avatar
93 months ago
Another portrait videographer. Fail.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
coolfactor Avatar
93 months ago
So many people (especially the news media) are making a big deal about self driving cars and that human drivers will soon become obsolete. Ever driven in the snow (cant' see the lines), how about pounding rain so heave the roads are partially flooded.

Yes being human does not mean you are necessarily a responsible driver, there are plenty of rotten human drivers, but I think we have a very long way to go before self driving cars can truly replace humans. Too many people uunderestimate the computing power of the human brain and the incredibly complex software/hardware necessary to replicate human ability.
Nobody is questioning the power of the human brain, but intelligence is secondary to that. And then layer on factors like influence from drugs and alcohol and distractions. The human brain may be powerful, but the human can be very, very dumb.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gaximus Avatar
93 months ago
Another portrait videographer. Fail.
Exactly what I came to say. It would be nice if there was a setting that would just record landscape mode in portrait orientation, just lower the resolution.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
myrtlebee Avatar
93 months ago
Interesting. I was going to comment that I'm glad this isn't being tested on roads near me, but then I remembered how crazy humans drive here and that it would be so much safer if all cars were like this.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cwt2nospam Avatar
93 months ago
Wow. I would have thought that on a computer related forum people would be more aware of where the technology is and how soon it will get here.

Self driving cars are generally closer than most people think, not further away. The $35,000 Tesla Model 3, which is due to begin production in July (less than 6 weeks from now) will have all the hardware necessary for self driving. Yes, the software will add to the cost but that's sure to drop soon, and it's really more a matter of legal concerns to enable fully autonomous driving at this point.

As for mud and snow, that's part of why there are multiple sensors. Naturally, if visibility drops the car will need to slow down or stop, just as with a human driver, but most of the time the car will have better situation "awareness" than a human can.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)