Will Apple Perfect the Self-Driving Car?

Apple’s self-driving car test fleet is expanding…

Apple is getting serious about its autonomous-car technology. This year has been the year for Apple to quickly expand its efforts in this realm.

Especially to compete with Chinese ridesharing giant Didi Chuxing, which is also looking to test its own self-driving vehicles.

Apple kicked off its self-driving project in April 2017 with only three vehicles. It quickly increased that number to 27 vehicles starting in the beginning of 2018. By March, that increased to 45.

Now, here we are in May, and the company just added 10 more vehicles — 55 self-driving cars in total.

Apple’s fleet is test driving on the roads of California. General Motors’ Cruise is also testing its fleet of self-driving cars in California. However, with 104 vehicles, General Motors has more cars than Apple.

Could Apple Gain the Lead?

Apple still has the second largest fleet in California.

In late 2016, Uber left California as a testing spot for its 15 vehicles. The company didn’t have much of a choice when the California DMV revoked its vehicle registrations because of safety issues.

In March, Uber pulled its self-driving cars off the roads because of a fatal crash in Arizona. Later on in the month, the company decided not to reapply for a self-driving car testing permit in California.

The crash that happened made Uber re-evaluate its technology before it continued moving ahead with testing its vehicles.

As of right now, Apple has a total of 83 drivers licensed to drive the cars on California’s roads. The company hasn’t applied for a permit that would allow for unmanned driving, so, in California, regulations would require a driver behind the wheel at all times.

A huge competitor of Apple as of right now is Didi Chuxing. It’s been developing self-driving technology and has just received a permit to begin testing its vehicles in California.

But the Chinese ride-sharing company isn’t the only one that has plans to test autonomous vehicles in California. As of right now, 53 companies have received permits to test self-driving cars with a safety driver in the state.

But that isn’t stopping Apple. Because of the increased competition, it has more of an incentive to stay proactive with its efforts in self-driving technology and its 55 vehicles ready to roam the roads of California.

Easier Said than Done

In April, California implemented some new regulations and permit application processes for self-driving car companies.

There are three permit options:

  1. Testing with a driver
  2. Driverless testing
  3. Deployment

In order for any company to do driverless testing, it’ll need to have previously tested the vehicles in controlled conditions. And the vehicles will also need to meet the definition of an SAE Level 4 or 5 vehicle.

That basically means that, when the car is deployed, it can detect and respond to roadway situations and its software will be immune to cyberattacks.

Apple Striving to Be in the Lead

Apple is taking self-driving development very, very seriously.

Last summer, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that self-driving is “a core technology that we view as very important.” He added, “We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects. It’s probably one of the most difficult AI projects actually to work on.”

Apple has been pretty hush-hush about its efforts in self-driving technology, but now that it’s becoming more obvious that the company is serious, it’s going to be interesting in the next few years to see which company comes out on top.

There are a lot of companies chomping at the bit to get a hold of this market. Tim Cook was right in saying that self-driving technology is going to be the mother of all AI projects. It’s going to be the technology that will redefine the way we think about and use transportation.

It has the ability to make a lot of things easier for mankind, but it’s also very important that the technology is developed properly and efficiently.

Until next time,

Jennifer Clark
Pro Trader Today