Development of the long-rumoured Apple car is continuing – amid reports of delays to the project – as the tech giant expands its autonomous driving testing program.
Apple has recruited new drivers for its autonomous vehicle testing fleet for the first time in three years – as the US tech giant’s plans to join the car industry reportedly continue to face delays.
According to US publication MacReports, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reports 21 new drivers are now certified to test autonomous-driving technology for Apple in its home state, for 162 in total.
In late 2023 the US tech giant also reportedly added two more autonomous test vehicles to its fleet – primarily comprised of Lexus SUVs fitted with advanced cameras and sensors – for a total of 68.
The website reports Apple has recorded 21 “drivered collisions” – the number of incidents involving autonomous test vehicles with a human driver behind the wheel, which can range in severity from debris hitting the car to major crashes – from 1 January 2019 to 5 January 2024.
The Apple car project has reportedly been in development since 2015 – or earlier, under the codename ‘Project Titan’ – although it has never been formally confirmed by the car giant, beyond announcing in 2017 it was working on autonomous driving technology.
A report by respected Apple tech journalist Mark Gurman for news agency Bloomberg claims the launch of Apple’s long-rumoured electric-car project has been delayed to 2026.
The report claims Apple is back-tracking on its desire to introduce the car as an autonomous vehicle without a steering wheel or pedals, as it is not said to be possible within reach of current technology.
It would instead retain Level 2 semi-autonomous driving capabilities, similar to Tesla’s advertised ‘Full Self Driving’ technology.
‘Level 2’ systems are the most advanced of their type approved for public use for Australian roads, and consider drivers to be responsible for control of the vehicle – with their hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road, but the car providing assistance through adaptive cruise control and lane centring assist.
Apple has reportedly hired engineers from Lamborghini, Tesla, Volkswagen, Ford and Mercedes-Benz to work on the project.
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