If you had your heart set on an Apple iCar to go with your iPhone and Apple Watch, take a deep breath and prepare to be disappointed. Forbes reported Wednesday the company apparently is more interested in developing apps for self-driving cars than the cars themselves. The California Department of Motor Vehicles granted permits for Apple to test three 2015 Lexus RX 450h hybrid SUVs. Industry analysts say the fact that only three vehicles are involved suggests Apple is focusing on its CarPlay connectivity and infotainment platform, Forbes said. CarPlay already has a significant portion of the vehicle market.
Google's autonomous driving spinoff, Waymo, has developed sensors that pair with its self-driving software, potentially opening the door for the company to sell a comprehensive system that automakers build into future car models. Google initially built its self-driving software on a prototype car outfitted with sensors, cameras and other hardware from outside suppliers. But to build a more affordable and sophisticated system capable of fully autonomous driving, the company decided it needed to create both halves of the technology, executives said. The announcement comes just weeks after Japanese automaker Honda said it would incorporate Waymo's technology into some of its vehicles. The companies said that deal was centered on research rather than producing vehicles for market, Bloomberg News reported.
The world's first shipment by a self-driving truck included 51,744 cans of Budweiser beer. A tractor-trailer outfitted with Otto's self-driving kit hauled the beer 120 miles along Colorado's Interstate 25 on Oct. 20. Self-driving cars have received plenty of attention this year, but self-driving trucks are quietly beating them to the punch. Professional truck drivers travel hundreds of billions of miles each year, and much of that is driven on highways. While city streets are filled with variables -- frequent stops, unpredictable pedestrians, emergency vehicles, and more -- highways are relatively straightforward.
The term "self-driving car" might conjure up images of an autonomous four-door sedan, but self-driving vehicles are likely to take many forms, including shapes that have never before been considered for transportation. Consider the Nuro self-driving delivery vehicle, currently slated to begin public tests this fall with the grocery store Kroger. Nuro's self-driving delivery vehicle has space for groceries, but not for passengers.Nuro and Kroger This vehicle was specifically designed to deliver goods on public roads. So it has a chassis and drivetrain appropriate for the street, but is small and efficient, with no space for passengers. On the other end of the spectrum are self-driving shuttles from companies like Navya and May Mobility.
More and more people are realizing that autonomous (self-driving) vehicles are not a road to automotive prosperity. To recap, Level 5 self-driving is what most people think of when they hear the term "self-driving." You type in an address and the car takes you where you want to go while you sleep in the back. That car is not going to hit the road anytime soon. Level 4 self-driving is similar but only works within well-defined areas or situations.