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.
A letter sent last month to U.S. transportation officials offers some insight into Apple's plans for the growing self-driving vehicle market. The letter from Steve Kenner, director of product integrity at Apple, addresses the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy crafted by the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration (NHTSA). "The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation," writes Kenner in the letter of Apple's ambitions. Kenner said Apple supports a proposal that companies share "de-identified" data from crashes or near-misses to help improve self-driving technology, but warns the policy must take consumers' privacy into account. "Data sharing should not come at the cost of privacy," said Kenner.
An Uber driver sits in his car near San Francisco International Airport on July 15, 2015. Uber and Volvo will invest a combined 300 million into a joint project to develop self-driving vehicles, the companies announced Thursday. In a statement, the companies said they will equip base vehicles with autonomous driving technology, ultimately moving toward manufacturing self-driving vehicles. Volvo will make the vehicles, while Uber purchases those vehicles and implement its own self-driving tech. "Over one million people die in car accidents every year," said Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in a statement.
Photos obtained by Bloomberg are giving us our first look at what appears to be a testbed for Apple's self-driving car technology. An observer caught the Lexus SUV (looking similar to the demo vehicle above) rolling out of an Apple facility in Silicon Valley, rocking an extensive kit including Velodyne LiDAR units and radar sensors, which help the car observe the world around it. Apple picked up a permit to test its autonomous technology on California streets a couple of weeks ago, and it apparently isn't waiting to get started. Here's the car that #Apple's using to test its autonomous car technology.