Apple wants to be at the forefront of the inevitable rise of the self-driving car. What is perhaps a first stab from the tech giant emerged from Apple’s facility Friday and was spotted driving around Silicon Valley.
The car was a souped-up Lexus RX450h SUV. This appears to be the earliest stage of real-world testing, but Apple is not taking its time. They’re in an arms race. The company just obtained a permit to test this technology in California April 14. The permit covered “three vehicles, all Lexus RX450h, and six drivers.”
The SUV was covered with high-tech equipment like optical cameras that made it stand out on the roads juuuust a little bit. The kit included sensors that helped the car observe the world around it, according to Engadget.
The sensors came “off the shelf” from third parties like Velodyne—they were not custom, Apple-designed hardware.
A New York Times report from September stated Apple was rethinking its strategy in pursuing self-driving cars, but the company’s recent actions indicate the tech behemoth is fully committed to seeing this through.
Apple is on a mission to be the leader in this realm, but it will face competition, as Alphabet and Tesla are among the companies vying to get self-driving cars—AKA “autonomous-car technology”—on the road. California has granted permits for the testing to 30 companies so far. These companies include startups, car makers, automotive suppliers, and giants like Apple and Google.
— Alex Webb (@atbwebb) April 27, 2017
— RWM (@rwmcorp) April 27, 2017
Reports of Apple shelving its self-driving car program were greatly exaggerated. https://t.co/02hpU1ES4x
— Mark Gambino (@timewaster2000) April 28, 2017
— 9to5Mac (@9to5mac) April 28, 2017
Imagine going for a spin and passing that thing. Then again, if you live in Silicon Valley, you’re probably used to seeing crazy things.
Apple’s shot at autonomous-car technology is known internally as “Project Titan.” Steve Wozniak, one of the two Steves who founded Apple and one of the most respected people in the tech sphere, had some fascinating thoughts on Project Titan and how it relates to Apple’s early projects. Check out his perspective below.
Steve Wozniak’s thoughts on a possible ‘Apple Car’ pic.twitter.com/NMjhnVfUKU
— Michael Chase (@chasethisnow) April 23, 2017