Apple Enters a New Phase: Electronic Self-Driving Cars is on the Way
A Reuters report suggests that Apple is working on commercial self-driving cars
Apple, the tech giant that surprises customers with its sudden launch of new products is now on a race to make autonomous cars. A recent Reuters report unraveled the internal content highlighting that the company will roll out an electric self-driving car by 2024. However, Apple is tight-lipped about the rumours and made no comments on it.
The idea of self-driving vehicles dates back to more than eight decades. In fact, the concept of autonomous cars was made public in an exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair by General Motors. The company created the exhibit to display its vision of what the world would look like in the next twenty years. However, the ambitious vision didn’t turn out to be materialistic for a long time. In 1977, the Japanese improved upon the idea. They used a camera system that relayed data in a computer to process images of the road. Unfortunately, the concept of self-driving vehicles came to mainstream only in the 21st century. Today, many vehicles on the road are considered to be semi-autonomous due to safety features like assisted parking and brakes system, and a few other capabilities to drive, steer, and park themselves. Some of the major front runners of self-driving cars are Tesla, Waymo, Cruise, Voyage, Nauto, etc. Apple is now unofficially joining the race to compete with the autonomous vehicle makers.
Insider’s content on Apple’s self-driving car
Unlike Waymo and Uber, Apple doesn’t aim to make robo-taxis. Apple’s autonomous car project is likely to compete with Tesla on the commercial consumer vehicle grounds. Apple is also expected to use its own breakthrough battery technology, the Reuters report conveys. The company’s new battery design could radically reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range. It plans to use a unique ‘monocell’ design that bulks up the individual cells in the battery and frees up space inside the battery pack by eliminating pouches and modules that hold battery materials. Apple is also reportedly testing a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry for the battery as an alternative to lithium-ion rechargeable battery typically used in electric cars, as it is likely to overheat and would be safer.
Since Apple is making customer based vehicle for private usage, its pricing will clash with Tesla’s electric vehicles with Autopilot support which costs between US$35,000 and US$120,000. Tesla is using computer vision technology and deep learning mechanism, and other mechanisms like front radar and sensors to navigate roads. But Apple has different plans which could increase the cost of the autonomous car compared to Tesla. The company’s car might feature multiple lidar sensors for scanning different distances. Remarkably, Apple could use its internally developed lidar which was featured in its iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro models recently.
Timeline on Apple’s autonomous vehicle initiatives
Apple’s self-driving car initiate goes way back to 2014 when the company began working on ‘Project Titan.’ It was reported at that time, Apple has employed 1,000 workers to carry out the development of an electric vehicle at a secret location near its Cupertino headquarters. There was a sign of calm following the rumours. Over the course of several years, words spread suggested that due to internal strike, leadership issues and other problems, Apple has shelved plans for an autonomous car. In 2017, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook broke the silence and said the company is working on autonomous driving software. Apple’s recent acquisition of autonomous vehicle start-up Drive.ai threw a ray of suspicion on what the company was up to. All the buzz talks have finally come to an end with Apple making a legendary entry into autonomous vehicle market. Unfortunately, experts say that Apple may be a big winner in the electronic industry, but it is still a baby in the automotive sector.