After shutting down development several years ago, it appears that Apple’s self-driving car is back in development. They are currently in discussions with several self-driving car sensors known as Lidar in order to develop their first passenger vehicle. Apple has been working toward this for several years and has developed most of the software, processors, and artificial intelligence needed for such a vehicle to operate safely.
As they did with the iPhone, it appears that Apple is looking for outside vendors to supply the critical hardware for the project. The laser-based sensors that Apple is currently looking into are used by many companies including Alphabet Inc’s Waymo unit and General Motor’s Cruise. As Apple seeks suppliers, they were also reportedly in talks regarding car manufacturing with Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., though those discussions were paused several weeks ago.
According to a white paper published in 2019, Apple had this to say regarding their sensory perception technology: “The sensing component is able to determine where the vehicle is located in the world and can identify and track surrounding objects, such as other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists…This is accomplished using a combination of sensors, including lidar, radar, and cameras, and provides high-resolution 360-degree 3D coverage around the vehicle.”
Apple is also using the Lidar technology for other products they’re developing as well. For example, similar laser sensor technology was used in the development of their iPad Pro (launched last March) and iPhone 12 Pro (launched last fall).
According to Bloomberg News, Apple currently has a team of battery, interior, and body experts working toward the car launch, though insiders say the launch is still roughly five years away. Apple’s current code name for the project is ‘Project Titan’ according to USA Today, but there are unconfirmed rumors that the finished product will be called the iCar.