Apple is scaling back targets for self-driving cars


Apple logo in car mirror

Apple is putting its self-driving car goals back a bit.


(Photo: dpa)

new York Apple according to a media report, is reducing its goals in the development of self-driving electric cars. The iPhone manufacturer is also postponing the planned market launch of the vehicles to 2026, reports the Bloomberg agency on Tuesday, citing insiders.

Apple just planning a less ambitious design that will have traditional steering wheel and pedals. The vehicle should have autonomous driving functions that work on highways. However, it will not be able to drive completely independently at all times.

Apple originally wanted to develop a self-driving electric car without a steering wheel or pedals. It was reported last year that Apple plans to launch the first self-driving electric car as early as 2025. This is now obsolete.

The fact that Apple is now also struggling with the autopilot function fits into the picture. The self-driving car is something like the holy grail of the automotive industry and the most important technology of the future, ahead of e-mobility. Yet No manufacturer has yet found the silver bullet to autonomous driving.

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electric pioneer Tesla relies on a special approach to autonomous driving, which, unlike the competition, only gets by with cameras. Their images are evaluated and interpreted by artificial intelligence. All other competitors, including Mercedes Benz, ford and the car service provider Waymo from Google rely on additional radar and laser sensors.

Problematic autopilot

Tesla’s autopilot most closely corresponds to a level 2 system, i.e. a system that only supports the driver. What Tesla However, this does not prevent the autopilot from being marketed as “Full Self-Driving”.

This is a thorn in the side of the supervisor: In August 2021, the US road traffic authority NHTSA launched an investigation into the autopilot in 765,000 Tesla vehicles after around a dozen accidents. Elon Musk has been promising the full launch of autopilot “this year” for years. But recently the Tesla boss sounded sober for the first time.

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In October, the end of Argo AI also caused a stir: ford and Volkswagen buried their autopilot joint venture and justified this, among other things, with the lack of progress with the autopilot, a level 4 system.

A mature Level 3 system that drives autonomously in traffic jams on the freeway, for example, has so far only Mercedes Benz to offer. The Stuttgart-based company expects approval in the first US states for early 2023.

Change of strategy at Apple

The Apple Car, known internally as “Project Titan”, has undergone numerous strategic shifts. The car should provide the group with a new source of revenue. Development began ten years ago – in secret and under changing leadership. Current project lead Kevin Lynch aims to bring stability and focus on achievable goals.

With the farewell to a fully autonomous car and the decision to design a more classic vehicle, Apple is now adapting to the technological restrictions. A spokeswoman declined to comment.

Lynch, who is also responsible for the Apple Watch operating system and Apple Health software, assumed the position in late 2021. The heart of the Apple car is said to be a powerful on-board computer – codenamed Denali. There is also a sensor phalanx. According to Bloomberg, the necessary processor is almost ready for production. A connection to the Amazon Web Services cloud is also planned.

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In the test is a remote control of the car and the offer of own insurance services. The design has not yet been finalized and will not be defined until 2024. The price for a possible market launch is still open: Insiders report that a price of less than $100,000 is possible. This puts the vehicle in roughly the same price range as the Model S from Tesla and the EQS from Mercedes-Benz.

Apple is expected to invest around one billion dollars in the car project each year. Around 1,000 employees in the United States, Canada and Switzerland are working on the Apple Car. Test runs are on a former Chrysler-Track performed outside of Phoenix. As reported in the past, Apple has repeatedly held discussions with potential suppliers and partners to deliver an electric car platform. The only serious negotiations took place years ago with Volkswagen instead of.

Apple shares fell 2.4 percent in late US trade. The leading index of the tech stock exchange Nasdaq also fell in this magnitude.

With agency material.

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