Apple Accelerates Work On Autonomous Electric Car Project
America’s technology giant, Apple Inc, has accelerated its work towards building a fully autonomous electric car. The company is refocusing the project around full self-driving capabilities. Apple has previously explored two paths simultaneously:
- creating a model with limited self-driving capabilities focused on steering and acceleration, just like many current cars
- a version with full self-driving ability that doesn’t require human intervention.
However, Apple engineers have recently started focusing more on the second option. In trying to build completely autonomous self-driving cars, Apple joins other tech and auto giants who have spent years on autonomous vehicles.
Apple is targeting a launch of its self-driving car in just four years if they manage to complete the self-driving system on that schedule.
Apple’s autonomous car will have no steering wheel and pedals, with an interior designed for hands-off driving. Passengers will sit along the sides of the vehicle and face each other like in a limousine. Though the company is trying to do away with the standard steering wheel, Apple is deciding on equipping the car with an emergency takeover mode.
So far, Apple believes it has completed much of the core work on the processor to be eventually shipped in the first generation of the vehicle. Apple plans to start by using the new processor design and updated self-driving sensors in retrofitted cars that it’s spent years testing in California. The Apple car chip is the most advanced component that Apple has developed internally. It is made up of neural processors powerful enough to handle the artificial intelligence needed for autonomous driving.
Apple currently has a fleet of 69 Lexus SUVs experimenting with its technology, according to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. When dealing with public transport, safety is a major concern and Apple is looking improve its safeguards from what’s available on Teslas and Waymos. This would obviously means incorporating plenty of redundancy systems to avoid catastrophic safety and driving system failures.
In a drive to beat the four year deadline, Apple has started hiring more self-driving and car hardware engineers and have already enlisted CJ Moore, Tesla’s former self-driving software director. Apple recent staff acquisition on the project includes a climate system expert from Volvo Car AB, a manager from Daimler Trucks, battery systems engineers from Karma Automotive LLC and other carmakers, a sensor engineer from General Motors Co.’s Cruise LLC, automotive safety engineers from companies like Joyson Safety Systems, and multiple other engineers from Tesla.