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Apple Is Reportedly Joining Self-driving Car Market

Apple Is Reportedly Joining Self-driving Car Market

When you think of Apple, the last thing that might come into your mind is cars. But, this might not be the case anymore in the next few years as they are planning on unveiling their very first self-driving electric car into the market.

Apple Is Reportedly Joining Self driving Car Market

Apple Is Reportedly Joining Self-driving Car Market. Image source: MacRumors 

What are Self-Driving Cars?

Self-driving cars are also known as autonomous vehicles or AVs. These vehicles incorporate vehicle automation technologies that are not present with traditional vehicles. An example of this automation includes the use of environment sensors without human intervention.

Other technologies that are incorporated with self-driving cars include:

  • GPS
  • Odometer
  • Sonar
  • Lidar
  • Inertial measurement units

In the past decade, the technology has significantly impacted the car industry, paving the way for a new breed of cars. Today, self-driving cars are commonly categorised into six levels following the system made by SAE International.

The six levels are as follow:

  • Level 0: No automation
  • Level #1: Shared or Hands-on control
  • Level #2: Hands off
  • Level #3: Eyes off
  • Level #4: Mind off
  • Level #5: Steering wheel optional

The number of vehicles that qualify for level 3 status is only a fraction of the self-driving car market. In fact, it was only in 2021 when a legally approved level 3 status was awarded, and it was given to Honda. But, the AV that Toyota used around the Tokyo 2020 Olympic village has the potential to qualify for level 4, but the verdict is still out on that one.

 

Apple Launching its Very Own Self-driving Vehicle

Nowadays, many big name manufacturers are developing their own self-driving cars. This is understandable because the technology has the potential to change how people drive. Since Apple’s flagship iPhones sales have been slowing down in the past few years, current CEO, Tim Cook, is looking to diversify the company’s revenue by venturing into the self-driving car market, and this is how the project Titan was born.

 

Project Titan

According to reports, Apple began its effort to venture into the car industry with the Project Titan. Although Apple has not yet made any official announcement about their research and development for self-driving cars, reports say that an estimated 5,000 employees have been working on the project since 2018.

In the same year, Apple also announced its partnership with Volkswagen to create an autonomous employee shuttle van modelled from the T6 Transporter. By August of 2018, the BBC reported that Apple road-registered 66 driverless cars and 111 drivers registered to operate the said vehicles.

However, in 2020, it seems that instead of focusing on producing an Apple-branded car, they are putting their efforts into researching and developing software, hardware, and other services related to self-driving cars.

Some of the alleged affiliates and employees of the project include:

  • Jamie Carlson- He is a former engineer for the autopilot self-driving car program of Tesla.
  • Megan McClain- She was an AG engineer of Volkswagen with expertises in automated driving.
  • Paul Frugale- He used to be the Autonomous Systems lab deputy director at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.
  • Jonathan Cohen – He was the previous deep learning software director at Nvidia.

 

What Can Apple Bring to The Table?

According to speculations, its battery technology will separate the Apple self-driving cars from its competitor. They aim to develop a battery that can radically reduce the battery cost of self-driving cars while increasing its efficiency to allow a wider driving range.

Reuters reported that Apple is planning to integrate a monocell design for their self-driving car batteries. The design would allow the battery to have much more power without consuming much space inside since it eliminates the modules and pouches that keep the battery materials together. Moreover, this type of battery is expected to have a lesser tendency to overheat compared to lithium-ion batteries.

apple car concept

Apple car concept – 3D render guess based on patents submitted by Apple. Image source: Macrumors

The Possible 2024 Launch

Originally, several reports indicated that Apple will be launching its self-driving car in 2025. But, according to more recent news, it seems like they are accelerating their timeline to 2024. Although many are skeptical whether this is possible since its research and development is fairly recent, Bloomberg reported that Apple had hit a milestone in its development. It would not be far-fetched for them to start road testing any time soon.

Moreover, the rumored self-driving car development team had a recent change in leadership. Kevin Lynch, one of the leaders behind the Apple Watch development, was inducted as the new head of the project. He replaced Doug Field, who was previously Tesla’s senior vice president of engineering.

The news of Apple accelerating their self-driving car timeline resulted in a 2% rise in stock. Because of this, their stock was at an all-time new high of $157.87 per share. During the same day, Tesla ended up losing its gains for that day, and they turned negative.

 

The Autonomous Car Market

In 2020, The autonomous car market was reportedly valued at $20.97 billion. When this forecast was made, experts believed that the market would triple in value in just a few years. But, due to the impact of the pandemic, the overall automotive industry has cut down its production plant outputs.

Some of the companies that currently dominate the autonomous car market include:

  • BMW
  • Nissan
  • Uber
  • Ford
  • Tesla
  • Waymo

 

Final Words

It is still unknown whether Apple will release its own self-driving car in 2024 or 2025. The company has not yet made any comments or announcements about it.

However, there are high hopes in what Apple can bring into the self-driving car market. Although this venture is not really expected from them, given the innovative technologies and designs that they have done over the years, they certainly have the potential to dominate. But, whether they will receive the same success as they did with the iPhone is something that nobody can predict yet.

Besides, even if it were to flop, the fact that there are now many players in the market is good news for consumers. This is because more competitors mean more affordable self-driving cars in the future that people can benefit from.

 

References:

Written by The Original PC Doctor on 24/1/2022.

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