Apple adds more drivers to autonomous car project

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2019
Apple is expanding efforts to forward its self-driving car project, and according to government documents has added 33 drivers to test its fleet of 69 autonomous vehicles over the past three months.

Apple Car


The new statistics were revealed in a filing with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which shows Apple now has 143 pilots registered to evaluate autonomous systems on specially equipped Lexus SUVs. As noted by macReports, that number is up from 110 drivers in April.

Apple is currently operating 69 vehicles on California roads, down from a peak of 72 cars in November 2018. The company cut its fleet down in April for unknown reasons. It has been speculated that Apple simply mothballed cars involved in accidents or those that required repairs above routine maintenance.

The Cupertino tech giant has the third-largest fleet of autonomous test cars in California behind GM Cruise and Waymo, which field 258 cars and 135 cars, respectively. GM Cruise added nearly 100 vehicles and cut 228 drivers from its roster since April, while Waymo added 10 cars and pulled 47 drivers from its fleet over the same period.

Apple's motivation in the self-driving market are unknown. The company initially embarked on an ambitious effort to build a branded self-driving "Apple car" with "Project Titan," a program that at one point had over 1,000 employees working on various projects. The effort was put on hold in late 2016 after development roadblocks led to disagreements in Apple's upper ranks.

After it was handed off to longtime executive Bob Mansfield, the Project Titan team was whittled down to core personnel working on self-driving software and supporting hardware.

Reports suggest Apple plans to implement a version of its self-driving technology in an autonomous shuttle that will ferry employees between its California campuses, while other believe a full-fledged car is still being considered.

Most recently, Apple recruited Tesla VP of Engineering and longtime car industry executive Steve MacManus to fill a senior manager role in July.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,939member
    Some of Waymo's Chrysler Pacifica vans here in California are sporting TCP numbers on the bumpers (just like limousines). This means that they are approved to transport passengers in a commercial capacity.

    The Apple vehicles in my area are difficult to identify but at some point if they want to do this, they will be required to show TCP numbers on the qualified vehicles.
    edited August 2019 cornchip
  • Reply 2 of 8
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,033member
    mpantone said:
    Some of Waymo's Chrysler Pacifica vans here in California are sporting TCP numbers on the bumpers (just like limousines). This means that they are approved to transport passengers in a commercial capacity.

    The Apple vehicles in my area are difficult to identify but at some point if they want to do this, they will be required to show TCP numbers on the qualified vehicles.
    I prefer UDP because I don't like the driver to acknowledge me after I'm dropped off.
    FileMakerFellerciacommand_fphilboogie
  • Reply 3 of 8
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,939member
    LOL, you must be driving for Lyft.
    cornchip
  • Reply 4 of 8
    NotsofastNotsofast Posts: 450member
    This article needs to be rewritten.  It quotes multiple unsourced, unsubstantiated rumors as facts.  For example, it states as fact that there were "over a thousand employees," but links to an article quoting another article that mentioned an unsourced, unsubstantiated claim that "Apple had several hundred employees" working on a project.  No one has any idea how many employees Apple has working on Project Titan, or what their focus is.  The article is full os these misleading statements.
    SpamSandwichRayz2016monstrosity
  • Reply 5 of 8
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    At the current rate of data collection, even if Apple had half as many autonomous vehicles on the road as Tesla, they’d still take many years to catch up to the data collection efforts and on-the-road experiences of Tesla. Frankly, I can’t see how any company could catch up with their lead at this point without buying them.
    edited August 2019
  • Reply 6 of 8
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,921member
    At the current rate of data collection, even if Apple had half as many autonomous vehicles on the road as Tesla, they’d still take many years to catch up to the data collection efforts and on-the-road experiences of Tesla. Frankly, I can’t see how any company could catch up with their lead at this point without buying them.
    Seems like they’re doing pretty well in mapping.
    Rayz2016
  • Reply 7 of 8
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    cornchip said:
    At the current rate of data collection, even if Apple had half as many autonomous vehicles on the road as Tesla, they’d still take many years to catch up to the data collection efforts and on-the-road experiences of Tesla. Frankly, I can’t see how any company could catch up with their lead at this point without buying them.
    Seems like they’re doing pretty well in mapping.
    Yes, but what Tesla has in terms of collecting all kinds of on-the-road unexpected occurrences makes their dataset extremely valuable for training their machine learning algorithms. Without supporting or refuting evidence, I’d guess that Tesla may have at least a 5 year or more advantage.
  • Reply 8 of 8
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    cornchip said:
    At the current rate of data collection, even if Apple had half as many autonomous vehicles on the road as Tesla, they’d still take many years to catch up to the data collection efforts and on-the-road experiences of Tesla. Frankly, I can’t see how any company could catch up with their lead at this point without buying them.
    Seems like they’re doing pretty well in mapping.
    Yes, but what Tesla has in terms of collecting all kinds of on-the-road unexpected occurrences makes their dataset extremely valuable for training their machine learning algorithms. Without supporting or refuting evidence, I’d guess that Tesla may have at least a 5 year or more advantage.
    Again, isn’t that the same lead that Google had in Maps?
    And isn’t that smaller than the lead Microsoft and Palm had in mobile phones?

    And do “on-the-road unexpected occurrences” stop happening when Apple cars are on the road?
    edited August 2019
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