Apple’s Self-Driving Lexus Spotted On Public Roads
Looks like one very pricey roof rack…by Jonathan Lopez, on
In case you hadn’t heard, Apple is secretly developing self-driving car technology, and earlier this week, one of the tech giant’s autonomous test mules was possibly spotted out and about on California streets. Made public in a brief video clip posted to Twitter, the car in question is a late-model Lexus RX SUV with what appears to be a roof full of cameras, radar equipment, lidar, and various other sensors critical to self-driving operation. Making the spot was MacCallister Higgins, co-founder of Voyage, a rival self-driving tech startup, who seems convinced that the car is indeed of Apple origin. In response to Higgins’ short video clip, Twitter user @idiggapple posted a pic of the same Lexus (or one that looks very similar), which apparently pulled up to an Apple shuttle stop briefly before departing.
By all accounts, it certainly looks like this is indeed Apple’s latest test mule. The company has already been approved for public testing of autonomous Lexus RX vehicles, the previous iterations of which have made headlines after showing up at random intervals around the Bay Area. To us, this definitely looks like the car is gathering data for self-driving software development, although the car could also be used for mapping purposes, another activity that lends itself to self-driving tech development.
Continue reading for the full story.
The Full Story
We’ve been following the Apple car story for a few years now, even going so far as to draw up a rendering of what it might look like. However, these days it’s looking like Apple will probably stick with just creating self-driving software, rather than a whole new car from the ground up.
That wasn’t always the case. Apple’s self-driving project, dubbed internally as “Project Titan,” was reportedly first tasked with designing and producing a standalone all-electric vehicle. However, following a variety of setbacks and staff shakeups, it would appear as though Apple is now focusing primarily on software creation.
Following a variety of setbacks and staff shakeups, it would appear as though Apple is now focusing primarily on software creation.
Meanwhile, a variety of other tech companies are also pushing for full-autonomous tech. Google is one good example, which created the subsidiary Waymo to take over its self-driving project in 2009.
The question is this – who will get there first, and what will the tech look like?
While the idea of a standalone car built by tech companies is an interesting proposition, the more likely scenario is an established automaker sourcing self-driving software solutions from the tech companies in some kind of joint project.
While getting there first is important, the tech has to stand up to the rigors of the real world.
The alternative is a company like Tesla, which seems deadest on developing its own systems and offering them directly to customers through products like the Model 3.
But here’s the rub – while getting there first is important, the tech has to stand up to the rigors of the real world. And that’s no easy feat, especially when developing these systems in secrecy while racing to be the first to market. Tesla knows this all to well, already feeling the heat after several highly publicized crashes raised questions over the safety of self-driving systems.
What do you think, dear reader? Does the idea of self-driving cars excite you, or does news like this have you worried? Let us know your opinion in the comments section below.
Read our full speculative review on the 2021 Apple iCar.
Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus RX.
Source: Twitter - MacCallister Higgens