Is Apple’s Self-Driving Car on the Horizon?

April 18, 2017 - 3 minutes read

As iPhone app developers know all too well, the narrative around Apple these days is that it needs to launch its next game-changing product soon or risk a slip in stature. The company has not released a mind-blowing must-have gadget since the iPad, and many of its most daring innovations have been eclipsed by competitors. Apple’s mysterious car initiative, Project Titan, may be the breeding ground for its next big success, but the company has never officially unveiled anything about the project to the public.

Here’s what we do know: the California Department of Motor Vehicles gave Apple a permit to test self-driving cars last Friday. The permit authorizes tests in three Lexus RX 450h hybrids, with six drivers sanctioned to take the wheel in case something goes wrong. This is the first indication of progress for the initiative after reports last year of a “reboot” that involved mass layoffs and a switch from designing an electric car to honing self-driving software. It’s easy for iOS app developers to see why the creator of the iPhone would be a natural fit for the autonomous car market; Apple Senior Vice President Jeff Williams wasn’t kidding in 2015 when he said, “The car is the ultimate mobile device.”

But San Francisco iOS app developers wonder if Apple can make a dent in the already crowded self-driving car market. It is the thirtieth company to be granted a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California. Among its competition are big names in tech, such as Google’s Waymo project, Tesla, and Uber, and major car companies, including GM, Ford, BMW, and Honda. No matter how far along Project Titan has come behind closed doors, it appears as if Apple is getting into the game late. And the permit is no guarantee that the company has anything to test at all; several companies with the permit have not logged any actual driving hours. But Apple undeniably has the resources to scoop the kind of talent needed for such a venture, even in a field as competitive as autonomous vehicles. When the number one tech company in the world enters the self-driving car game, it’s automatically a major player, no matter what it has up its sleeve so far.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,