Self-driving Apple Car takes a major step towards launching with completion of its custom SoC design work
Apple has long prided itself on being able to create solutions for challenging problems in tech and then making them user accessible. And you can bet that if there is a singular motivating force behind the development of its Apple Car, it will be to solve a problem that hasn’t been solved to date. That challenge? To create a car that is fully autonomous, and be the first to do it.
Despite repeated promises, Tesla has yet to be able to make good on its plan to deliver a full self-driving (FSD) car with most in the industry considering that capability many years away. The reasons for this are many and varied, but range from computing power, software and sensors, through the many varied road conditions that exist on roads in any given country, and then, also, around the world. Most cars on the market with autonomous driving capabilities are rated at Level 2, with Tesla leading the way.
The holy grail is Level 5 autonomy, which is FSD in any conditions. Level 4 is what most FSD companies are targeting, which is FSD in certain conditions. If there is one company that can develop a chip that would do the job, it is Apple, and its chip design team has completed much of its development, according to Bloomberg. Unlike Apple’s mobile and Mac silicon, the Apple Car chip is much more heavy on neural cores which is needed to process the advanced algorithms needed for an FSD.
Bloomberg reports that FSD is the current goal of the Apple Car project under its latest lead, Kevin Lynch, Apple vice president of technology. The aim is to have the vehicle ready for market in 2025, some eleven years after CEO Tim Cook gave the project the green light in 2014. Still, some within the company are said to believe this overly ambitious given the complexities of the challenge. If Apple gets it right, however, the Apple Car may not have a steering wheel at all. If it can’t get to Level 5, then as a Level 4 vehicle, it will still require a steering wheel for driver intervention.
As for what the Apple Car might look like, the concept creators at Vanorama have taken a stab at it with a render based on Apple’s patent applications for the vehicle. While these are typically unrepresentative of the final look of a vehicle or product for obvious reasons, it is still an interesting exercise in terms of what Apple is cooking up.