Apple wins California DMV permit for testing self-driving car, could put tech on public ro...

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited April 21
The California Department of Motor Vehicles on Friday added Apple to the list of companies with permission to test self-driving vehicles in the state, suggesting that the company is pushing through with work on "Project Titan." [Updated with Apple test car info]




The win could even mean that Apple is ready to test a vehicle on public roads, Business Insider noted. Companies can't perform such tests in California without an Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit.

Apple met with the state's DMV as far back as 2015, but despite this, testing ended up continuing in private. The most public the project has ever been is in Nov. 2016, when Apple submitted a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, expressing interest in the autonomous field.

The company was at one point thought to be designing a top-to-bottom vehicle, but a number of obstacles led to the company reining in the project and switching to the more narrow focus of a self-driving platform. The company is expected to decide later this year whether to resume building a full-fledged car or partner with an existing automaker.

Indeed anything Apple puts on the roads is still likely be an existing car modified to test sensing and AI technology. Even if the company was far enough along with a custom design, driving it in public would ruin any surprise and hand ideas to competitors.

Away from prying eyes, Apple has allegedly been using virtual reality to test an augmented reality system. Facilities in countries as distant as Switzerland may be doing other work, though the major nexus of Apple's efforts is thought to be back in Sunnyvale, Calif.




Early rumors suggested that Apple might have a finished car ready as soon as 2019. A more realistic date at this point is at least 2021, if not later depending on the impact of delays and whether or not Apple partners with an outside automaker.

Chinese ridehailing service Didi Chuxing -- in which Apple invested $1 billion last year -- recently set up a self-driving car lab near Apple's Cupertino headquarters, which could point towards a collaboration.

Update: Apple's permit covers three Lexus RX450h SUVs, and six drivers serving as backup.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 53
    I've been waiting to buy an Apple car for years, in the hopes that the interface would be smart. So I could say things like "roll down my window by 20%" (which would let me keep my hands on the steering wheel) and "how much gas mileage did I get this week?" Etc. Oh, and I'm hoping that Apple will include self inflating tires, not just pressure monitoring. That would be a huge safety innovation. However it's taking too long and I'm likely to buy a low cost car in the meantime as a temporary measure.
  • Reply 2 of 53
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 2,703member
    I've been waiting to buy an Apple car for years, in the hopes that the interface would be smart. So I could say things like "roll down my window by 20%" (which would let me keep my hands on the steering wheel) and "how much gas mileage did I get this week?" Etc. Oh, and I'm hoping that Apple will include self inflating tires, not just pressure monitoring. That would be a huge safety innovation. However it's taking too long and I'm likely to buy a low cost car in the meantime as a temporary measure.
    While all of that stuff would be really nice to see, it takes years and years to do develop that kind of technology and make it work properly. As with a lot of new Apple products, there may be things even we didn't think of. Innovation does not come quick. Not only do you have to engineer this stuff, you also have to figure out how to manufacture it.  I'm sure it will be at least 2020 before we see any kind of Apple car type product.
    edited April 14 watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 53
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 26,168member
    Should just assume they're working on software solutions at this point, IMO.
    dysamoriapscooter63tallest skil
  • Reply 4 of 53
    MacProMacPro Posts: 16,187member
    I've been waiting to buy an Apple car for years, in the hopes that the interface would be smart. So I could say things like "roll down my window by 20%" (which would let me keep my hands on the steering wheel) and "how much gas mileage did I get this week?" Etc. Oh, and I'm hoping that Apple will include self inflating tires, not just pressure monitoring. That would be a huge safety innovation. However it's taking too long and I'm likely to buy a low cost car in the meantime as a temporary measure.
    "Gas mileage?"    :#
    retrogustofastasleepdysamoria
  • Reply 5 of 53
    AppupathakAppupathak Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    I am an Apple fan boy, but have been disappointed with Siri's progress. Google hears me 99.9% of the times. Siri, about 85%. Autonomous cars can't have that level of confidence. Integration with Philips hue is patchy. 
  • Reply 6 of 53
    macxpress said:
    I've been waiting to buy an Apple car for years, in the hopes that the interface would be smart. So I could say things like "roll down my window by 20%" (which would let me keep my hands on the steering wheel) and "how much gas mileage did I get this week?" Etc. Oh, and I'm hoping that Apple will include self inflating tires, not just pressure monitoring. That would be a huge safety innovation. However it's taking too long and I'm likely to buy a low cost car in the meantime as a temporary measure.
    While all of that stuff would be really nice to see, it takes years and years to do develop that kind of technology and make it work properly. As with a lot of new Apple products, there may be things even we didn't think of. Innovation does not come quick. Not only do you have to engineer this stuff, you also have to figure out how to manufacture it.  I'm sure it will be at least 2020 before we see any kind of Apple car type product.
    Yes. Hopefully they've been working on this stuff for quite a while already. It would help explain their huge R&D expenses, which are much higher now than they were 10 years ago when they developed the iPhone. 
  • Reply 7 of 53
    Sounds like progress but Apple can put out an EV platform well before a self-driving feature.

    I don't think Apple will sell their own cars to the general public but license an "Automotive Platform" a la QNX but much more advanced.

    This platform would include a well integrated and loosely coupled, modular operating system operating system and specific advanced automotive hardware parts designed to be for the OS.  Apple is in a unique position to deliver this because they already have lot of the basics.

    The OS would be a realtime derivative of OS X / iOS including the core OS foundation, SIRI, Apple Maps, Foundation DB, the new APFS, iCloud, battery management, security, CarPlay, coherent navigation etc...  Apple would need to research and design the automotive specific modules while allowing licensees to override specific functions with their own implementations.

    This platform would be licensed to various automotive and part manufacturers with options to use iCloud for the automotive data collected or not, let Apple manage and access the automotive data or not etc...

    This would greatly lower barrier to entry for car manufacturing and would lead to a lot of superb automobiles.
    edited April 14
  • Reply 8 of 53
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 314member
    Imagine a world of hacked cars. Think of all the personal information one of these vehicles could contain. Would passengers involved in accidents with other self-driving cars be able to sue the Apple or other maker? What would insurance rates be like, higher or lower? 

    Anyone else see possible problems ahead?
    dysamoria
  • Reply 9 of 53
    spice-boy said:
    Imagine a world of hacked cars. Think of all the personal information one of these vehicles could contain. Would passengers involved in accidents with other self-driving cars be able to sue the Apple or other maker? What would insurance rates be like, higher or lower? 

    Anyone else see possible problems ahead?
    It would certainly be much better than it is now because everything would be accurately recorded. Insurance would be much lower depending on the automotive platform and features. New laws would need to be legislated such as 20 years mandatory to keep hackers at bay.
  • Reply 10 of 53
    1st1st Posts: 246member
    2019? great. better be single seat with sufficient room for surf board, BBQ, camping gear (enough power to climb  30 degree hill).  better not be electrical only, hybrid would be nice.  electrical still got problem for cold weather, you don't want car limited to certain altitude (avoid rocky mountain would be bad).  better  be different design and crash test ready (carbon fiber, Ti frame, Usibor body, Al/Mg panel would be nice) and eye catching (also as crash avoidance, as well as deter for the thieves).. and last not least, insurable and not too pricy, compatible with standard gas pump for fuel (not need to go to hotel to fill it up)
  • Reply 11 of 53
    boeyc15boeyc15 Posts: 971member

    Nothing to see here, move along, these are not the Apple cars you have been looking for. Apple don't need no stinking car.

    That said --- self driving cars.   I want it to happen, I really do, I love the thought of saying - 'drive to Yosemite south entrance gate.. then wake me up'. But IMO, unless there are restricted or rule based roadways that they can drive on... just too much crap that can happen that can go bad... especially congested city streets/freeways.

    However, in the mean time...  Im all for lane keep assist and autonomous emergency braking/pedestrian braking etc --- but my hands will be on the steering wheel. I don't even care for cruise control, too easy to get distracted.

    Self driving cars are --- do,  or do not do. Having levels of 'self driving cars' is crazy.

    edited April 14
  • Reply 12 of 53
    Very much agreed. It's still science fiction, don't look for fully-autonomous cars anytime soon. It really doesn't matter what is happening in California, it's a terrible gauge for the rest of the continental U.S. - where I live, the landscape changes regularly, and there is no way current self-driving tech could hope to make any sense of it, pretty much just period. This is still many years off. I expect driver assist functions will improve greatly over the next ten years, however, I suspect Apple is doing more on that end.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 14 of 53
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 3,206member
    flootist said:
    Very much agreed. It's still science fiction, don't look for fully-autonomous cars anytime soon. It really doesn't matter what is happening in California, it's a terrible gauge for the rest of the continental U.S. - where I live, the landscape changes regularly, and there is no way current self-driving tech could hope to make any sense of it, pretty much just period. This is still many years off. I expect driver assist functions will improve greatly over the next ten years, however, I suspect Apple is doing more on that end.
    You really have no clue what California looks like huh?
    California has the most diverse driving conditions of the whole US, high humidity is probably the only checkmark it can't do.
    Snow, check, tall mountains check, very raining condition (far north) check, desert check, heat check, cold check, high traffic check, pedestrians heavy places (San-Francisco and central parts of LA) check, high altitude check, winding roads as fuck, check, most insane freeways ever, check, very high speed roads, check.
    All of this is a very compact space.
    It's the ideal place to test a self driving car.

    Its coming way way way faster than you think. Right now, the obstacle in many situations are more regulatory than technical.

    iqatedoafrodri
  • Reply 15 of 53
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 3,206member
    1st said:
    2019? great. better be single seat with sufficient room for surf board, BBQ, camping gear (enough power to climb  30 degree hill).  better not be electrical only, hybrid would be nice.  electrical still got problem for cold weather, you don't want car limited to certain altitude (avoid rocky mountain would be bad).  better  be different design and crash test ready (carbon fiber, Ti frame, Usibor body, Al/Mg panel would be nice) and eye catching (also as crash avoidance, as well as deter for the thieves).. and last not least, insurable and not too pricy, compatible with standard gas pump for fuel (not need to go to hotel to fill it up)
    They'll produce whatever they feel can produce a wedge in the competitive space and that won't be something that pleases everyone, at least not at first.
    Trying to please everyone means pleasing no one. Apple's products tend to be pretty focused on a few value proposition and do those well.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 16 of 53
    MacProMacPro Posts: 16,187member
    foggyhill said:
    flootist said:
    Very much agreed. It's still science fiction, don't look for fully-autonomous cars anytime soon. It really doesn't matter what is happening in California, it's a terrible gauge for the rest of the continental U.S. - where I live, the landscape changes regularly, and there is no way current self-driving tech could hope to make any sense of it, pretty much just period. This is still many years off. I expect driver assist functions will improve greatly over the next ten years, however, I suspect Apple is doing more on that end.
    You really have no clue what California looks like huh?
    California has the most diverse driving conditions of the whole US, high humidity is probably the only checkmark it can't do.
    Snow, check, tall mountains check, very raining condition (far north) check, desert check, heat check, cold check, high traffic check, pedestrians heavy places (San-Francisco and central parts of LA) check, high altitude check, winding roads as fuck, check, most insane freeways ever, check, very high speed roads, check.
    All of this is a very compact space.
    It's the ideal place to test a self driving car.

    Its coming way way way faster than you think. Right now, the obstacle in many situations are more regulatory than technical.

    You missed a couple ;).  Last time I drove the coastal route from San Francisco to San Diego which I've done quite a few times,  I got rerouted around earthquake damage in several places and coastal erosion.  Otherwise one of the most beautiful drives I know of.
    iqatedoroundaboutnow
  • Reply 17 of 53
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 1,582member
    Btw, the vehicle Apple is using is the same vehicle that's been used by Google.
    gatorguypatchythepirate
  • Reply 18 of 53
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 584member
    I am an Apple fan boy, but have been disappointed with Siri's progress. Google hears me 99.9% of the times. Siri, about 85%. Autonomous cars can't have that level of confidence. Integration with Philips hue is patchy. 
    Siri is no more than 50% for me.    As much as I love iPad and iPhone I would run from an Apple car because of Siri and maps.   
  • Reply 19 of 53
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 1,294member
    flootist said:
    Very much agreed. It's still science fiction, don't look for fully-autonomous cars anytime soon. It really doesn't matter what is happening in California, it's a terrible gauge for the rest of the continental U.S. - where I live, the landscape changes regularly, and there is no way current self-driving tech could hope to make any sense of it, pretty much just period. This is still many years off. I expect driver assist functions will improve greatly over the next ten years, however, I suspect Apple is doing more on that end.
    You need to look at a map of California, We have the most diverse geography out of any state in the country. We have a temperate rainforest, deserts, mountains, rugged coastline, sand dunes, high mountain passes (Tioga Pass), etc. No other state comes close to what we have here. 
    edited April 14
  • Reply 20 of 53
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 6,995member
    Should just assume they're working on software solutions at this point, IMO.
    That would be brain dead. Apple controls the ecosystem; and that includes the vehicle(s).
    iqatedo1st
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