Apple has always knocked it out of the park with their tech gadgets and now the company is all set to venture into the unknown woods of automation.
The global information provider Reuters has reported that Apple will roll out its first self-driving electric car by 2024. However, the pandemic related delays may push the target year of the release to 2025.
Apple secretly initiated the electric car production in 2014 with upwards of 1000 employees under the project named ‘Titan’. Over the course of years, the project suffered internal strife, leadership issues, and negligence due to a shift in focus to the ‘software’ side.
Later on in 2018, Doug Field, an Apple Veteran, was summoned to oversee the project. Doug laid off 190 people from the team and since then the project enjoyed steady growth. Currently, it is under the leadership of John Giannandrea, Apple’s AI and machine learning chief.
The biggest challenge in the project stems from the supply chain acquisition. Even for a company like Apple who’s sitting on huge piles of cash, assembling a self-driving car is no mean feat. As a member of the ‘Project Titan’ said, “If there is one company on the planet that has the resources to do that, it’s probably Apple. But at the same time, it’s not a cellphone”.
A person equipped with the car manufacturing process speculated that Apple would need to produce at least 100,000 vehicles annually to make money.
Trip Miller, managing partner at Apple investor Gullane Capital Partners, said, “It would seem to me that if Apple develops some advanced operating system or battery technology, it would be best utilized in a partnership with an existing manufacturer under license. As we see with Tesla and the legacy auto companies, having a very complex manufacturing network around the globe doesn’t happen overnight.”
Apple hasn’t proclaimed their future plans around this project yet, so it’s still not clear who would assemble this Apple-branded car. Rumours suggest that the scope of the project may reduce from Apple building a full-fledged car to just building an autonomous system that would be integrated in a car made by an outside traditional automaker.
The USP of Apple’s car is the company’s self-made breakthrough battery technology which has been described as “next level”. Apple smartly plans to design the battery with a unique “monocell” interior which leaves a lot of space for ‘active materials’ to be packed within the battery. This in turn cuts the cost of the battery and develops a car with potentially longer range.
Apple also plans to include multiple lidar sensors in the car for scanning the three-dimensional view of the road. Some of these sensors could come from Apple’s internally developed lidar units while some others may be outsourced from outside suppliers.