Saturday, 22 July, 2017

The iPhone of cars? Apple enters self-driving car race

Melissa Porter | 17 April, 2017, 01:11

The permit has confirmed that Apple is jumping into the growing frenzy to bring the autonomous technology to the market.

This is the first time Apple has received approval to test its technology on public streets.

The thing is, the permit is for the cars themselves, but actually applies to the technology behind the self-driving capability of those cars.

Officially, Apple has remained silent on its ambitions despite recurring rumors that it is working on an automobile project titled "Titan". That list had already included companies such as Tesla, Google and Uber, along with auto makers including BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen. Uber was a notable hold-out-it refused to apply for a self-driving permit in December after it launched its self-driving vehicle pilot program.

"There are many potential applications for these technologies, including the future of transportation, so we want to work with NHTSA to help define the best practices for the industry", Apple wrote to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Apple joins a growing list of traditional carmakers, technology companies, and small start ups to test drive cars in California - all vying to be the first to have commercially viable vehicles on the roads.

Apple was so mum about the project that some thought it may have been shuttered, said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader.

The vehicles in question are all 2015 Lexus RX450h models, it should be noted - rather than those little "Apple Cars" that we had seen a bit before.

Apple has not commented - other than to point to its letter late past year expressing an interest in the technology.

"Apple is notoriously secretive about its autonomous vehicles and "Project Titan"," he said.

Apple uses machine learning to make its products and services smarter, more intuitive, and more personal. Nothing further was reported on that deal, and Apple had just two months before hired Dan Dodge, the founder and former CEO of QNX, a software company that specializes in "microkernel" operating systems and integrated driving and info-tainment systems which are used in multiple high-end vehicle brands including Audi, Jaguar, and Mercedez Benz.