What you need to know
- Apple is moving forward with its self-driving car plans.
- The company is apparently working on breakthrough battery technology.
Reported by Reuters, Apple first self-driving car could debut as soon as 2024. The company is targeting the year to produce a passenger vehicle that may also feature a breakthrough in battery technology.
Project Titan, the codename for the company's self-driving car, has been a mysterious topic at Apple since it was first embarked upon back in 2014. While it has seen plenty of uncertainty and shakeups, it appears that the project is moving forward with the goal of releasing a car for consumers.
Since then, Apple has progressed enough that it now aims to build a vehicle for consumers, two people familiar with the effort said, asking not to be named because Apple's plans are not public. Apple's goal of building a personal vehicle for the mass market contrasts with rivals such as Alphabet Inc's Waymo, which has built robo-taxis to carry passengers for a driverless ride-hailing service.
One of the breakthroughs that is driving the car project forward is apparently a new battery design that could reduce the cost and increase the range.
As for the car's battery, Apple plans to use a unique "monocell" design that bulks up the individual cells in the battery and frees up space inside the battery pack by eliminating pouches and modules that hold battery materials, one of the people said. Apple's design means that more active material can be packed inside the battery, giving the car a potentially longer range. Apple is also examining a chemistry for the battery called LFP, or lithium iron phosphate, the person said, which is inherently less likely to overheat and is thus safer than other types of lithium-ion batteries.
While this latest report points to the idea that Apple may release its own car, there is still the possibility it will develop the technology that will be used in other manufacturer's cars instead of building its own.
It remains unclear who would assemble an Apple-branded car, but sources have said they expect the company to rely on a manufacturing partner to build vehicles. And there is still a chance Apple will decide to reduce the scope of its efforts to an autonomous driving system that would be integrated with a car made by a traditional automaker, rather than the iPhone maker selling an Apple-branded car, one of the people added.
The company is reportedly also working with partners to develop the sensors for its vehicle, but is still debating whether or not to develop its own.
Apple has decided to tap outside partners for elements of the system, including lidar sensors, which help self-driving cars get a three-dimensional view of the road, two people familiar with the company's plans said. Apple's car might feature multiple lidar sensors for scanning different distances, another person said. Some sensors could be derived from Apple's internally developed lidar units, that person said. Apple's iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro models released this year both feature lidar sensors.
Apple has declined to comment on the report. You can read the full report at Reuters.