Apple’s journey into the world of electric vehicles has been like a roller coaster ride, marked by shifts in focus and various internal challenges. This article takes an in-depth look at the current state of Apple’s electric car project, touching on key aspects such as design, self-driving capabilities, partnerships, and more.
Design and self-driving capabilities:
Apple’s initial goal was to create a fully autonomous car that did not require a driver. However, this goal proved too ambitious and the plan was revised. The Apple Car is now expected to have a conventional car design with a driver’s seat, steering wheel and pedals. While it will have limited self-driving capabilities on the highway, manual control will be required in urban environments. LiDAR sensors, radar sensors and cameras will be used to autonomously drive the car.
Apple initially considered a unique design with four seats for passengers facing the interior, which would encourage face-to-face interaction. However, the project then moved to a more standard electric car design with some autonomous driving features. The final design has not yet been approved. Apple plans to finalize the design in 2024 and launch in 2026.
Apple has considered installing a central iPad-like touchscreen in the interior of the car, similar to Tesla. This system would easily integrate with existing Apple devices and services.
The Apple car will use a high-performance chip of its own design, created by the same group responsible for Apple’s famous M1 processors. This chip, made up of neural processors, will do the sophisticated artificial intelligence work required for autonomous driving. The production of this chip is expected to be handled by TSMC, a company known for producing chips for other Apple products.
Safety is a top priority for Apple, which aims to outperform competitors like Tesla and Waymo. Redundant and backup systems are integrated to prevent driving system failures.
Charging and battery:
Apple is considering adopting a combined charging system, a standard supported by many automakers. The company is also developing a radically new battery design that could significantly reduce cost and increase vehicle range. The new “mono-cell” design will maximize the amount of active materials in a compact package.
Apple is working with suppliers to develop smaller and more affordable LiDAR sensors, a key technology for autonomous driving. In selecting sensors, Apple can leverage existing supplier relationships, such as with Wenmao, which already supplies LiDAR sensors for the iPhone.
Since Apple has no experience in car manufacturing, it needs partnerships in the automotive industry. While talks with Hyundai and other companies have taken place, there is no confirmed partner yet. Apple is also exploring contract manufacturers such as Foxconn, which could play a key role in the manufacturing process.
Apple Car development history:
The Apple Car project, known internally as Project Titan, started in 2014 and has undergone many changes and delays since then, including the transition from a fully autonomous car to a semi-autonomous model.
Apple Car executives:
John Giannandrea, Apple’s head of artificial intelligence and machine learning, is leading the project, and Kevin Lynch, known for his work on the Apple Watch, is instrumental in making the transition to an autonomous car realistic in the current decade.
Apple has assembled a team of more than a thousand professionals and engineers to work on the project, which has been testing self-driving cars on California roads since early 2017.
Apple’s car project was originally located in a secret location near its Cupertino headquarters.
Apple plans to launch its autonomous car by 2026, although the ambitious nature of the project leaves room for delays.
Apple’s electric car project has thus undergone significant changes and challenges, but the company remains committed to bringing an innovative vehicle to market. The development of the project highlights the difficulty of entering the automotive industry even for a tech giant like Apple.