Apple is moving ahead with plans to develop a fully autonomous electric car, according to the latest leak on the company’s long-running automotive project. Unlike some vehicles that have partial self-driving features, Apple aims to make a car that is capable of driving itself without input from the human behind the wheel, the sources allege.
Rumors about Apple’s electric car project have been circulating for years, the narrative shifting every so often as Apple allegedly oscillates between different potential plans for its EV. The latest claims come from Bloomberg, which cites “people familiar with the matter.” Apple, of course, has not commented on the rumor.
With Kevin Lynch now in charge of the project, Apple is moving forward with plans to develop a fully autonomous electric car, the sources claim. The evolution in Project Titan, Apple’s car effort, would put the company up against Tesla, which has its own ambitions for a full self-driving EV.
Assuming the sources are accurate, Apple is looking to launch its self-driving EV in four years, which would put it around a 2025 launch. However, the leak claims this alleged launch date is contingent on whether Apple can equip its vehicle with self-driving capabilities. It’s unclear whether Apple would shift to a partially autonomous EV launch or push the launch to a later date should it fail to reach its alleged goal.
What would a fully autonomous consumer car look like? The report claims Apple would like to introduce an EV that lacks pedals and a steering wheel, opening the door for unique interior designs that could, for example, focus around a more social arrangement or provide room for getting work done during a commute.
Apple allegedly is also considering an infotainment system that, based on the report, sounds like it would be similar to Tesla’s EVs. The system controls would reportedly revolve around a large touch screen positioned in the center of the vehicle, making it accessible to passengers who would have access to Apple services.
The sources go on to claim that Apple may have finalized the key aspects of its EV car processor, one the company allegedly plans to add to existing vehicles used for testing. The chip would essentially serve as the vehicle’s “brain” to power the many AI features involved in self-driving capabilities.
Beyond that, the leak also claims Apple may include an emergency mode that allows drivers to take over control of the vehicle if necessary, though it’s unclear whether that would mean adding a steering wheel and pedals to the design or if it would be similar to an emergency shutdown button.
Safety, of course, remains a major issue in the automotive industry’s push for fully autonomous capabilities. The sources behind Bloomberg‘s report allege Apple plans to hire engineers who will be tasked with developing Project Titan’s safety features and testing them.
The work is pushing toward a potential future in which Apple’s EV would target more than just consumers, the sources claim, a move that would make sense in light of on-demand ride services and the existing efforts of companies like Waymo. Apple reportedly has looked into the possibility of launching fleets of its electric vehicle to offer the public a service similar to that of Uber.
Whether that’ll happen — and how long it may take — is another matter. We’ve been hearing leaks about Project Titan for years and it’s entirely possible the company’s plans for its EV could once again shift. Assuming Apple does have the ambition to launch its own self-driving EV fleet, the business move would first require bringing the EV to market, an ambitious task that may very well require a delay beyond the alleged 2025 launch date.