Proof of Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) self-driving car initiatives emerged yesterday after Bloomberg reported a sighting of the Cupertino, California-based company’s vehicle on the streets of San Francisco. According to the report, the car was a white Lexus RX450h fitted with an array of sensors, including a 64-channel LiDAR, two radars and a series of cameras.
An industry expert quoted in the report stated that the self-driving car “seemed” to be off-the-shelf as opposed to being custom made. The same vehicle, manufactured by Toyota Motor Corporation (TM), is being used by Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Waymo to test its self-driving experiments. Unlike Apple, Waymo has developed its own LiDAR sensors, which the company claims reduce costs by 90 percent. (See also: Waymo Cuts Self-Driving Car Sensor Costs by 90%.)
Image courtesy of Bloomberg
Apple has been rumored to be working on a self-driving vehicle for some time now. Project Titan, as the initiative is code named within the company, has undergone changes since its beginnings. For example, Apple reduced the project’s headcount late last year and refocused its priorities on developing self-driving software (as opposed to manufacturing a car from scratch). Apple is reported to have a set a late 2017 deadline to develop self-driving software. (See also: Apple Sets Late 2017 Deadline for Car Project.)
The company has also made a number of key hires with experience in developing self-driving cars for a new hardware team. The Cupertino company was granted a license to test its self-driving cars in San Francisco by the California Motor Vehicles department earlier this month. Apple already has a couple of products, such as CarPlay, aimed at the automotive market. An entry into the market for self-driving vehicles will allow Apple to further integrate customers onto its device platform and gather more customer data for services targeted at customers. (See also: Apple Makes Key Hardware Hires for New Initiatives.)