Apple resumes work on an Apple-designed car and aims to create a fully autonomous vehicle, reports Bloomberg. Apple is “refocusing” the project around full self-driving vehicles, a goal that other automakers have not been able to achieve.
Work on an Apple car began way back in 2014, and since then the project has undergone several transformations. At one point, rumors suggested that Apple had abandoned its plans for a complete vehicle and would instead focus on software, but rumors began to pick up speed again in 2020. It has now been made clear that Apple intends to launch its own vehicle.
As Bloomberg explains that Apple worked on two vehicle paths, one with limited self-driving capabilities and another with full self-driving functionality that does not require human intervention, and the company will now pursue this second path under the leadership of Kevin Lynch, who joined the project earlier this year . Apple has hit a “milestone” in the development of the self-driving car system, and has completed the core work on the chip that will power the first car.
The Apple car chip is the most advanced component that Apple has developed in-house and consists primarily of neural processors that can handle the artificial intelligence needed for autonomous driving. The properties of the chip mean that it will get hot and probably require the development of a sophisticated cooling system.
The hope is to develop a vehicle that can spare customers from driving fatigue when they are on long trips. But building a real car – for an outside car industry like Apple – will require partnerships. The company has discussed agreements with several manufacturers and has considered potentially building the vehicle in the United States
Apple wants to design a car that lacks a steering wheel or pedals, and with an interior geared toward hands-free driving. Bloomberg said Apple has considered a design similar to the Lifestyle Vehicle from Canoo, where passengers sit along the sides of the vehicle facing each other.
Apple is still discussing the inclusion of a steering wheel, which may be required so people can take over in an emergency. An iPad-like tablet could be in the center of the vehicle that passengers would be able to interact with.
Apple wants their car to be safer than those made by Waymo and Tesla, with redundancies and fail-safe devices to avoid failures. The vehicle will be electric, with Apple discussing charging that is compatible with the combined charging system, allowing Apple car owners to use a global network of chargers.
Using Lexus SUVs equipped with LiDAR scanners and other equipment, Apple has tested its self-driving system. Bloomberg says Apple will test the new processor it has developed in these cars, along with new self-driving sensors.
It is said that Apple aims to launch its self-driving car in four years, which would make its debut just around 2025. Whether Apple will be able to achieve that goal depends on whether Apple can develop a fully self-driving system. If it is unable to achieve its goals, Apple may delay launch or sell a car that is less technologically advanced. The timeline is aggressive and Apple is increasing hiring to meet deadlines.