Self-driving trucks aren't just for hauling beer anymore. Now they can also haul garbage. Not to be outdone by the likes of Uber and Waymo, Volvo has now outlined one of its own autonomous vehicle projects in Sweden: a self-driving garbage truck. Like Uber Freight, the project is another effort to extend self-driving technology beyond just shuttling people around in self-driving taxis. After all, someone has to line up the garbage cans for the vehicle -- because you sure don't when you're rushing your trash out the door on your way to work.
Apple stays quiet about it, but the company is clearly developing a self-driving car. And this week the world was given a glimpse inside this project, showing that it's much larger than many had previously thought. The FBI arrested a former employee on Apple's autonomous car design team for allegedly downloading proprietary information and attempting take it to a rival car company in China. The resulting documentation reveals the number of employees on the project. There's no room for doubt about what Xiaolang Zhang, the former Apple employee, was working on.
Numerous rumors over the years suggested Apple was developing its own self-driving vehicle. However, the company ended up putting those ambitions aside and decided to focus on autonomous systems instead, with plans to test its campus shuttle, people familiar to the matter told the New York Times. Apple CEO Tim Cook made it clear last month the company was not planning to build its own self-driving car when he told Bloomberg the company was focusing on an autonomous car system. However, it seems like Apple really did have plans to build its own car, but because of disagreements within leadership, the idea was disregarded. Apple's self-driving technology project, called Titan, will instead work on the system that will allow cars to drive on its own.
Apple Inc. is pushing to accelerate development of its electric car and is refocusing the project around full self-driving capabilities, according to people familiar with the matter, aiming to solve a technical challenge that has bedeviled the auto industry. For the past several years, Apple's car team had explored two simultaneous paths: creating a model with limited self-driving capabilities focused on steering and acceleration -- similar to most current cars from Tesla Inc. -- or a version with full self-driving ability that doesn't require human intervention. Under the effort's new leader -- Apple Watch software executive Kevin Lynch -- engineers are now concentrating on the second option. Lynch is pushing for a car with a full self-driving system in the first version, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. It's just the latest shift for the car effort, known as the Special Projects Group or "Project Titan," which has endured strategy changes and executive turnover since starting around 2014.
Apple is continuing efforts to advance internal self-driving car technology, with the iPhone maker recently registering more drivers to pilot technology test beds on California roads. In early August, Apple's autonomous vehicle program consisted of 69 test vehicles and 92 pilots, according to filings with California's Department of Motor Vehicles. The number of testbeds has not increased as of Sept. 10, but Apple is now permitted to field 114 registered drivers. As noted by macReports, the increase does not match a peak of 154 driver permits reached in October 2020. It does appear, however, that the tech giant is slowly rebuilding its ranks after nearly halving the number of licensed drivers attached to the program earlier this year.