Rumored lidar procuring suggests Apple remains to be critical about autonomy

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg by way of Getty Images

Apple has talked to not less than 4 totally different firms about buying lidar sensors, Reuters studies. Apple can also be reportedly engaged on a home-built lidar sensor. The information means that Apple remains to be taking its self-driving automobile effort, recognized internally as Project Titan, severely.

Apple hasn’t publicly revealed what sort of self-driving know-how it’s engaged on, and certainly reporting means that the corporate’s plans have shifted over time. Way again in 2015, the Wall Sreet Journal reported that Apple was creating an electrical automobile and had lots of of individuals engaged on the undertaking. The subsequent 12 months, the New York Times reported that Apple was scaling again the undertaking and was seeking to associate with an current automaker reasonably than constructing a automobile from scratch. By 2017, the Times was reporting that Apple had “put off any notion of an Apple-branded autonomous vehicle and is instead working on the underlying technology that allows a car to drive itself.”

Last 12 months, Apple rehired Doug Field, a former Apple govt who had left to supervise Tesla’s automobile engineering—as soon as once more sparking hypothesis that Apple may get into manufacturing. In January, Apple laid off about 200 Project Titan engineers and reassigned others in a shakeup led by Field.

Despite all this turmoil, Apple nonetheless appears to be devoting important sources to the trouble. Reuters says that the undertaking has about 1,200 individuals remaining after the layoffs earlier this 12 months.

The firm is particularly purchasing for sensors with a spread within the lots of of meters. That means that Apple is creating know-how for absolutely self-driving automobiles touring at freeway speeds. Slower automobiles can get away with cheaper, shorter-range sensors. Companies working so as to add lidar to next-generation driver-assistance techniques additionally usually see shorter-range lidar as enough.

The undeniable fact that Apple is purchasing for lidar does not essentially imply the corporate goes to construct its personal automobiles. Apple may be making an attempt to develop a turnkey autonomy stack that it may license to current carmakers—the identical enterprise mannequin being pursued by the outstanding self-driving startup Aurora. Apple may even simply be searching for lidar sensors to make use of on its subsequent era of self-driving prototypes whereas creating a software-only product. Or—most certainly—Apple hasn’t made a closing determination about what sort of product to create and is preserving its choices open by creating a number of totally different applied sciences concurrently.


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