Apple has been also on the lookout for a manufacturing partner having had chats with Hyundai, Magna, Kia, Toyota and Nissan.
It is no secret that Apple is lagging behind the likes of Google, Aurora, Cruise, Tesla and many more when it comes down to self-driving technology. It even lost its lead of project titan aka the Apple Car project – Doug Field – to Ford recently. But now there are signs that it is ramping up testing of its self-driving car software with it increasing the number of pilots it has for tests in the last month.
In August, Apple’s autonomous driving programme consisted of 69 vehicles and 92 pilots as per a filing with the California DMV. Now that number has risen to 114 registered drivers as of September 10 which is just last week. This number is still lower than the peak of 154 drivers which was achieved in October 2020. There are signs that Apple is increasing its fleet after almost halving it in 2020.
Waymo and Cruise have the most vehicles with each having 616 and 201 autonomous cars on the prowl in California. Apple just has 69 cars and is yet to apply for a driverless permit. DMV filings also reveal that Apple’s vehicles were involved in two collisions since last August achieving a total of five in the year. It has been reported that Apple’s system for autonomy disengaged at the time of the accident and the other vehicle was to blame for the two recent incidents.
Apple has been developing a self-driving system for the last couple of years and this system will be applied to a chassis that will be powered by an electric powertrain with unique battery technology. Recently, after the exit of Field, Apple elevated Apple Watch software boss and healthcare head, Kevin Lynch to being the head of the Apple Car project. Lynch himself reports to Apple COO Jeff Williams and the overall project is under Apple AI chief and senior VP, John Giannandrea.
Apple has been also on the lookout for a manufacturing partner having had chats with Hyundai, Magna, Kia, Toyota and Nissan for a contract manufacturer agreement, something that’s yet to be closed. Many believe Apple could be launching its car by 2025, but many Apple watchers believe that may not be true and the project isn’t as further along as many believe. Regardless, this will like also be the last major product launch under CEO Tim Cook who has been at Apple since 1998 and recently completed a decade at the top of the Silicon Valley giant.