Apple’s self-driving car has been spotted for the first time, and it’s a Lexus RX450h crossover, according to Bloomberg. Apple’s self-driving car project has been in the news for quite a long time now, but the development so far was clandestine.
Apple more focused on software
It seems that the testing is in the initial phase of the road test, although there is no clarity on the nature of the test. The car running on the California streets comes equipped with Velodyne 64-channel LIDA and a range of cameras, radars and standard sensors. There is nothing customized about the equipment, further suggesting it is still in the initial testing stage of Apple’s self-driving technology, notes Digit.
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The use of third-party hardware by Apple also means that the test is in the initial phase. The Cupertino, California-based company may be more focused on the software part of self-driving cars rather than designing and manufacturing its own hardware or car. The company has been investing aggressively in machine learning and autonomous systems.
Citing internal documents from Apple obtained earlier this month, Business Insider states that the technology fitted in the autonomous car is capable of sending electronic commands for steering, decelerating and accelerating. It might also carry out driving tasks, although not full-fledged. Human drivers will be behind the wheels when the car is running in autonomous mode and can override the controls anytime.
The iPhone maker has so far not released any statement on the self-driving car, but the pictures that have emerged on the Internet show that the company is going the Google way, as the latter has also partnered with Chrysler for its electric minivans, notes 9to5mac.
Self-driving – attracting big names
In 2015, CEO Tim Cook stated that the car industry will see “massive change.” However, later the company seemed to be moving away from the idea of its own autonomous vehicle, and focused primarily on software. The company is believed to be in talks with BMW and Volkswagen regarding the technology, notes Digit.
Previously, there were also questions raised on Apple’s intention, whether it would actually come up with such project or not. However, the confusion was laid to rest when earlier this month, the California DMV listed Apple as one of the companies allowed to test autonomous cars on California roads. As of now, the company has been permitted three Lexus RX450h vehicles and six drivers, according to the permission given by the California DMV for its autonomous vehicle road test.
Almost all the autonomous car and technology makers have been keen to run their tests on the roads of California. There is an exhausting list of companies, including big names such as Google and NVIDIA and automakers like Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, General Motors, Tesla, Honda, BMW and many more that test autonomous technology on California streets.
Start-ups like Drive.ai and Faraday & Future are also not far behind when it comes to working on autonomous car technology. However, with Apple starting to show its muscle in the field, there is surely more to come as the days pass by.