Apple has its sights set on self-driving cars, but what that actually becomes for public consumption remains to be seen.
Back in January of last year we reported that Apple’s fleet of self-driving cars increased to almost 30 vehicles. Since then it has grown even higher, further suggesting that Apple’s goals are high in this category. However, it was recently reported that disengagements, both on the software side and from the actual driver behind the wheel (for safety reasons) were ridiculously high. Especially when compared to competing options out there.
As a quick reminder, a disengagement is when either the driver behind the wheel takes over control of the vehicle directly, or when the software itself gives control back to the driver. And the report yesterday indicated that, within these parameters alone, Apple’s disengagements are much higher than companies like Waymo.
For instance, in the stretch of time between April 2017 and June 2018, Apple saw 36,359 software disengagements and 40,198 manual takeovers by drivers. Those happened over the course of the 24,604 miles the cars drove during that time. That’s not great when compared to other companies.
But Apple made a change in July of 2018 as it relates to disengagement reporting. Now, the company is only focusing on what it calls “important disengagements”. Those in question would be disengagements that had to happen in order to continue to abide by the rules of the road, or otherwise safety-related concerns. Since that change went into effect, Apple’s self-driving cars have driven 56,135 miles and the company reported 28 important disengagements.
Apple can make this change in reporting because it is up to each company what they actually report. There is no standard for comparison when it comes to this level of specificity.
It is going to be very interesting to see what happens with these self-driving plans. It was recently reported that Apple let go over 200 employees that were working on the Project Titan mission within the company. In other news, though, Apple did hire designer Andrew Kim away from Tesla, who helped work on designs for that company’s different vehicles. And of course, analysts are still predicting we will see the “Apple Car” in 2023.
What do you think Apple is going to launch with all of this self-driving work?
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