According to a new report from Reuters, Apple aims to launch an autonomous vehicle by 2024. Two people “familiar with the matter” explain that Apple has progressed enough on software to achieve an autonomous vehicle. Back in early 2019, Apple laid off around 200 employees from Project Titan specifically to focus on software.
One person who once worked on Project Titan said “If there is one company on the planet that has the resources to do that, it’s probably Apple. But at the same time, it’s not a cellphone,”.
An automotive supply chain is not as simple, even for a company like Apple. Therefore, the company may end up developing an autonomous driving system that would then be outfitted into partner vehicles. It’s still not clear whether an Apple-branded vehicle would exist or whether the system would simply carry the Apple logo.
A new battery technology called “nanocell” would power these vehicles, the new batteries would take up less space, and the chemical makeup is different as well. Apple is reportedly looking into LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) which would be less susceptible to overheating vs. lithium-ion batteries. The new batteries would also potentially offer longer range for these vehicles.
As for the autonomous system, it would use lidar sensors, like those it now uses on the new iPhone 12 Pro Max and the latest generation of iPad Pro models. Multiple sensor would be used to detect objects at different distances. It’s said that either Apple or an outside company would supply these sensors to Apple.
The report mentions that Apple aims to have a product ready for 2024, but the current health crisis has a potential to put the project into delays. Again, whether that’s an Apple-branded car or a system on an existing vehicle brand (or new sub-brand perhaps?) is yet to be known. Apple declined to comment on its plans and future products.