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Development of Apple Self-Driving Car Hinted

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There have been tidbits of information pointing to the development of an Apple self-driving car. Details about the matter have always been closely guarded and the Cupertino-based tech giant firm has been mum about it. However, a new clue has been uncovered that suggests the autonomous vehicle program of the company is still alive.

In a document published by Apple enumerating its Supplier List for February 2017, it included Robert Bosch GmbH in it with office address at Tuebinger Strasse 123, Reutlingen, Germany. While the company is known for its production of sensors for electronic devices, power tools, security systems and home appliances, it should be noted that it is also responsible in supplying automotive parts.

According to a source, among the products produced by Bosch’s automotive division are vehicle sensors, electronic controls, power braking systems and steering. The collaboration of the two is in compliance to the guidelines of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in autonomous vehicles. A letter of Apple’s director of product integrity, Steve Kenner, to the NHTSA was uncovered too wherein he expressed the company’s interest in making automated systems in many areas, including the transport sector.

Other Clues to the Apple Self-Driving Car Project

Apple continues to play coy in the matter. But there have been many clues dropped by its company’s executives as well as their actions as of late pertaining to their involvement in an automotive program.

Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted before that they wanted to expand beyond the integration of their smartphones into vehicle infotainment systems. In addition, there have been a series of high-profile hirings that further fuel speculations about the subject.

In 2015, Apple hired former Mercedes-Benz Research & Development head Johann Jungwirth. Then last year, the firm took Sinisa Durekovic under its wing. He is known for his work in developing satellite navigation systems used by luxury car brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Top 15 Rumors About the Apple iCar

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There have been rumors since early last year that Apple is developing its own car, which is either an electric vehicle or a self-driving unit. Although the Cupertino-based multinational company remains secretive about it, there have been hints from inside sources and sightings confirming that the giant tech firm is indeed working on its own vehicle. The mass media currently refers to the auto as the Apple iCar.

Here are the top 15 rumors about the iCar that Macworld gathered:

1. Codename

According to Wall Street Journal, the iCar project is codenamed as “Titan.” It also claimed that several hundred employees are working on it.

2. McLaren Negotiations

Financial Times stated that Apple is negotiating to buy McLaren. It is not clear though if Apple is only considering it as an investment, but it is most likely that Apple is looking to utilize the supercar technology available in McLaren for its iCar.

3. Issues

Apple is reconsidering its strategy in development of self-driving cars. It was reported that the company laid off a number of its staff working on the project.

4. Marketing Strategy

The tech firm is planning on an aggressive marketing strategy for its iCar. It is targeting sales of half a million units annually.

5. Battery

The iCar battery will be sourced from a major Sourth Korean battery developer according to Neil Cybart, founder of analyst firm Above Avalon. The source said the anonymous Korean company just signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement with Apple.

6. Unveiling

Appleinsider said the completion of the iCar is tentatively set in 2021 due to major setbacks.

7. Development Cost

Apple spent $10 billion in research and development as of late. Previously, the company only allotted $3 billion for that. The sudden bubble in R&D costs indicates that it is working on something more than smartphones, tablets or computing devices.

8. Commitment

Tim Cook appears to be committed to it. Despite not confirming the project, he left hints in his interviews that they are into something bigger outside the products they have now.

Wall Street Journal revealed too that Bob Mansfield is overseeing the electric vehicle division of the company. Mansfield is a former senior vice president of Technologies at Apple. He reportedly extended his tenure from a planned retirement from the company in 2012 to lead the special project.

9. Noise in Apple Facility

Residents in Sunnyvale, California said that engine noises could heard in an Apple campus at 11PM based on Appleinsider.

10. Domain Names

MacRumors found out that Apple bought domain names related to cars in December 2015. However, it is also possible that the domains will be used for the in-car system of Apple called CarPlay.

11. Apple Covering Its Tracks

Reports surfaced that the car manufacturer Faraday Future might be a front of Apple for the development of its iCar. This is to divert the attention of the public from the iCar and keep the project away from the prying eyes of the media.

12. Digital License Plates

Among the cool technologies equipped in the iCar will be digital license plates.

13. Big Car and Tech Firms Sense a New Player in the EV Scene

Elon Musk revealed Apple has been offering Tesla engineers to jumpship with $250,000 signing bonus and 60 percent increase in salary. Korea Times claimed Apple is luring Samsung tech experts into their yard too.

14. Apple is Testing Cars Rigged with Sensors

Cars registered with Apple were seen in the roads fitted with a lot of sensors. The tech firm ruled out the development of autonomous car though by saying that the cars are only being used to test their mapping technology.

15. Apple’s Acquisition of Johann Jungwirth

The best evidence pointing to the possible development of the iCar is the hiring of Johann Jungwirth in Apple. Jungwirth is the former head of R&D at Mercedes-Benz. He is rumored to be spearheading the development of the iCar.

Tesla Will Equip All Its Cars With Self-Driving Tech

tesla

Electric vehicle maker Tesla announced on October 19 that all the cars it will produce—including Model 3—will be equipped with technology that will allow them to go on auto-pilot.

Last year, the company co-founded by Elon Musk introduced the Autopilot system. Although it is far from offering fully-autonomous driving to its cars, the technology already has the elements that will pave way for that goal.

So far, the system allows auto-braking. It will also offer several features that will heighten the safety levels of the car, which is far more than the capability of a human driver.

To achieve such, Tesla equipped its cars with twelve updated ultrasonic sensors. The sensors double the capability of the old system in detecting hard and soft objects within the vicinity of the vehicle. The tech increases the awareness of the driver on the road too especially during heavy rain, dust, fog and in detecting incoming cars using its forward-oriented radar with enhanced processing.

Tesla said the new onboard computer in its cars provides 40 more computing capacity than the previous generation. The upgrade gives Tesla cars a new neural net enhancing their vision, sonar and radar. With that, every direction is seen by system simultaneously, which is far more than what the human senses are capable of.

Tesla reminded that customers will not have to wait for the mentioned technology anymore. The Tesla Model S and Model X have it already. The vehicles are being sold now.

For the meantime, Tesla stated that it will have to conduct more tests with their new system. The calibration would require millions of miles in real-world driving to ensure optimum safety and convenience. As a result, some features of the Autopilot will have to be disabled for the moment like the emergency braking, collision warning, lane assist and active cruise control. Over the air updates will be released to enable the blocked features once Tesla is confident in their new system.

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