Arguably, Apple has changed our lives more than any other company in the world in the past two decades or so. But aside from its digital devices like iPhones, laptops, watches, and operating systems, is there another direction it could go?
A somewhat temporary response to that has been transportation, in the form of electric, self-driving cars.
Is Apple poised to challenge Tesla, the leader in the electric car market, and what progress has been made so far?
Here’s what we know:
What is Apple’s layout?
An Apple-branded car has been out for several years now, with sporadic reports of progress.
However, the Cupertino-based company has always remained silent about its progress and what exactly it plans to do after saying it is working on standalone systems.
“We have an incredibly talented team working on standalone systems…some groups are being ported to projects in other parts of the company, where they will support machine learning and other initiatives across Apple,” the company said in 2019.
In 2021, CEO Tim Cook said New York times Self-driving technology was in the works but was reluctant to share specific details.
“Regarding the work we do [in that field]I would obviously be a little shy about that, said Mr. Cook.
“Autonomy itself is a core technology… If you go back in time, a car is, in many ways, a robot. An autonomous car is a robot. And there are a lot of things you can do with autonomy. And we’ll see what Apple does.”
Apple secretly began developing its own robotic and electric vehicle – Project Titan – in 2014, hiring top Tesla executives to drive its autonomous and electric vehicle initiatives.
Reuters reported in December 2020 that Apple was aiming to have a road car in 2024, while Bloomberg reported in November a possible date in 2025.
However, this goal was said to depend on the company’s ability to complete an autonomous driving system.
What will the car look like?
No official word from Apple yet, so it’s a case of using your imagination to some extent.
What is known is that Apple filed a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2017 for “a VR system for vehicles that may implement methods that address problems in moving vehicles that may result in motion sickness for occupants.”
The patent filing said: “The VR system may provide virtual views that match visual cues with the physical movements of the occupant. The VR system may provide immersive virtual reality experiences by replacing the real-world perspective with virtual environments.
“Active vehicle systems and/or vehicle control systems may be combined with a virtual reality system to provide physical effects with virtual experiences. Virtual environments may be altered to accommodate the occupant when it is determined that the occupant is exhibiting or showing signs of motion sickness.”
So, if the passengers inside the car are immersed in virtual reality, are windows needed?
Bloomberg reported in November that Apple’s ideal car would not have a steering wheel or pedals, and its interior would be designed around hands-free driving.
This is very similar to the Tesla robotaxi, which is currently under development. Tesla boss Elon Musk confirmed the robotaxi’s lack of pedals and steering wheel, which makes it look more like a train than a car.
“It will be greatly improved for autonomy – which means it won’t have a steering wheel or pedals. There are a number of other innovations around which I think are very exciting, but have been fundamentally improved to achieve the lowest fully considered cost per mile or kilometer at a time,” Musk said last month. Count everything.”
“I suspect [the robotaxi] It would really be a massive driver of Tesla’s growth.”
Bloomberg reports that one of the options Apple discussed features an interior similar to the one on Canoo’s Lifestyle Vehicle. In that car, passengers sit on the sides of the car and face each other as if they were in a limousine.
Where are we with self-driving cars?
Apple has a fleet of 69 Lexus SUVs piloting its technology, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Despite this, as Tesla discovered, safety is a major obstacle to overcome.
Tesla also says it expects to release a “fully self-driving” beta testing program to all US customers who have purchased the feature by the end of the year. Musk said about 100,000 owners are now testing the system on public roads. However, it will have to bypass previous regulators once they are deemed ready.
“Of any tech development I’ve been involved in, I haven’t actually seen more false dawn, where it looks like we’re going to hack, but we don’t, as I’ve seen in fully autonomous driving,” he said. “To solve fully autonomous driving, you actually have to solve AI in the real world, which no one else has solved.
“I think we will achieve that this year.”
It is estimated that more than 1,400 self-driving cars are in use in the United States.
It was not without controversy. Last year, a Tesla in Houston, Texas, was reported to have crashed into a tree, killing two people.
Updated: May 20 2022, 1:12 pm