Apple Continues to Expand Self-Driving Car Fleet

Apple continues to expand the number of self-driving vehicles it is testing on the streets of Northern California, according to new numbers sourced from the California DMV (via macReports).

Apple has 55 vehicles out on the road driven by a total of 83 drivers, up from the 45 vehicle permits the company possessed in March. Since last April, Apple has been steadily adding new vehicles to its fleet, all of which are equipped with the autonomous driving software that Apple is developing.

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For its software testing, Apple uses Lexus RX450h sports utility vehicles outfitted with advanced LIDAR equipment and an array of cameras. While California now allows for fully autonomous driverless vehicles to be tested on public roads, Apple does not yet possess those permits and all of its vehicles have safety drivers inside.

Rumors of Apple's work in the vehicle space first surfaced in 2015 as the company hired thousands of automotive experts and explored the possibility of a full Apple-designed electric vehicle. Those plans did not pan out, and in 2016, longtime Apple executive Bob Mansfield took over the automotive team and Apple refocused its efforts not on a car, but on self-driving car software.

At the time of the pivot, Apple executives allegedly gave the automotive team until 2017 to "prove the feasibility" of a self-driving car system, and given the continued expansion of Apple's self-driving car fleet, it seems the company has decided to progress with development.

It is not yet clear what Apple plans to do with the self-driving car software when finished, but the company could partner with other car manufacturers or eventually return to development on its own vehicle. It's also possible that some of the features that are being worked on could be introduced in future more advanced versions of CarPlay.

Some rumors have suggested augmented reality aspects could be included in the software that Apple is developing, such as a heads-up display that would provide standard driving details along with data from apps like Maps.

Because of the need to submit public information to the DMV, Apple has not been able to keep its work on autonomous driving software under wraps as it does with most of its product development. Tim Cook in June of 2017 even confirmed Apple's work on autonomous software, a rare move for the normally tight-lipped CEO. "It's a core technology that we view as very important," he said. "We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects. It's probably one of the most difficult AI projects to actually work on."

Related Roundup: Apple Car

Top Rated Comments

dontwalkhand Avatar
42 months ago
Heres the Apple car in action

"Hey Siri drive me over to the Mayo Clinic"
"Here are 47 grocery stores that sell mayonnaise, taking you there now"

'Hey Siri drive me to Erin's house"
"I'm sorry I don't see Aaron in your contacts"

"Hey Siri drive me over to the Apple Store"
"Apple.com has great resources for that"

"Hey Siri drive me to Fashion Square mall"
"Searching the web for "drive me to fashion square mall""

Can't wait for the future. Sounds like it'll be fun.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rogifan Avatar
42 months ago
Bryan Chaffin, who writes for the Mac Observer website, says there’s a reason Apple management is being so aggressive with the stock buybacks and he doesn’t think it’s about incremental changes to services revenue. He thinks something big will be coming from Apple in the next couple years that management feels will be a significant growth driver. I’m wondering if it’s something health related like non-invasive glucose monitoring or something to do with the car project.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ActionableMango Avatar
42 months ago
I picked up my self driving car last week.
No, you don't. You have a package of driving aids.

This Tesla driver thought he had a self-driving car:
https://www.sciencealert.com/tesla-owner-banned-after-being-filmed-relaxing-in-passenger-seat-on-freeway-model-s-autopilot

I know Musk publicly says it is a fully self-driving car and Tesla marketing shows hands-off driving in their video, but then when there is a crash and Musk testifies, his tune is 100% opposite and he says it is a hands-on system. He's basically saying one thing when selling the car, with people like you repeating it, and then something completely else when a customer is caught doing exactly what he said can be done.

When we really have self-driving cars, people who are blind, are too old, are too young, are drunk, have lost their license, or simply cannot pass the driving test will be able to have cars. The only humans in taxis, Uber, and Lyft will be passengers. Semi trucks will have no humans in them at all. And even those who can legally and appropriately drive would be able to take a nap, watch TV, or work on their laptop instead of driving.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rogifan Avatar
42 months ago
I'm not holding my breath on this "prediction."
Who knows but companies typically buy back stock when they feel the stock is undervalued. Apple is accelerating the pace of their buyback program. I do think they have something cooking the health space that we will see in 2019 or 2020.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SteveW928 Avatar
42 months ago
Apple and Buffett definitiely see it that way and are backing it up with $150B and counting.
That's if they don't mess up to bad. A large part of the markets are also perception/speculation. And, with Apple transitioning from a quality product company to a fashion/services/consumer-electronics company, things could go wrong much more easily.

Apple cars probably have the AI of Siri :/
LOL, no kidding. Look at the state of all the AI for virtual assistants, social media moderation, etc. and then ask yourself... do I want that driving around on the road with thousands of pounds of steel?

There is a canyon-like gap between the public/media perception and reality, here.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bollockser Avatar
42 months ago
Cant wait to read all the fanboy excuses when the iCar starts running people over and causing accidents.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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