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Apple scales back self-driving cars, delays debut until 2026 – Orange County Register

Mark Garman

Apple Inc. has scaled back its ambitious self-driving plans for future electric vehicles, pushing the car’s launch date back by about a year to 2026, according to people familiar with the matter.

The car project, internally dubbed Titan, has been in limbo for the past few months as Apple executives grapple with the reality that the vision of a fully self-driving car without steering wheels or pedals is not possible with current technology. It was.

The company is currently working on a less ambitious design with a steering wheel and pedals and supporting only fully autonomous highway functions, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Planning. .

The latest changes highlight the challenges Apple faces as it ventures into entirely new product categories and tackles technological obstacles that have plagued some of the world’s largest companies. The secret project, which has been underway for years, aims to provide another major moneymaker for Apple, but it can also test the limits of the iPhone maker’s capabilities.

Apple now allows drivers to perform other tasks such as watching movies or playing games on the highway, giving them plenty of time to reach city streets or switch to manual control if they encounter bad weather. The company plans to launch this feature in North America first, and is discussing improving and expanding it over time.

A Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Apple shares, already down about 2% on Tuesday, plunged to session lows after Bloomberg News reported the change. They’re down 19% this year, which is a better performance than most stocks on the Nasdaq Composite Index as he’s more of a tech stock.

Apple’s previous vision for cars was to provide “Level 5” autonomy. This is the pinnacle of self-driving technology that no automaker has achieved. The current plan is considered below because its scope is more limited.

This is the latest strategic shift for the Apple automotive team, which has faced a leadership change since its inception a decade ago. After years of shifting priorities and layoffs, current leader Kevin Lynch has sought to increase stability and focus on practical goals.

Lynch, who is also responsible for the Apple Watch’s operating system and health software, will take over at the end of 2021. Lynch initially directed a team working on cars, known as the Special Project He Group, to focus on fully self-driving cars. Debut by 2025. Now he’s adjusting those expectations, but with the goal of ensuring the product actually hits the market.

At the heart of Apple’s technology is a powerful on-board computer system and custom array of sensors, codenamed Denali after North America’s tallest mountain peak. The processor’s performance is comparable to about four of Apple’s top-of-the-line Mac chips combined, and it’s developed by the company’s Silicon Engineering group. The chip has reached an advanced state and is considered nearly production-ready, but Apple may scale back to lower costs before the car launches.

Having on-board computers to handle automated tasks is similar to the approach used by other automakers, including Tesla. However, Apple plans to differ from Tesla by using lidar and radar sensors in combination with cameras. The setup helps the car to locate its position, see the driving lane, and assess its distance from other objects and people. Tesla relies on cameras, while Alphabet’s Waymo and others use a combination of cameras.

In addition to onboard hardware, the system has cloud-based components for artificial intelligence processing. Apple relies on Amazon Web Services for hosting, costing iPhone makers about $125 million a year. But that’s just a fraction of the roughly $1 billion the company spends annually on automotive projects.

Apple is exploring the idea of ​​a remote command center to assist drivers in emergencies and control their cars from a distance. The company is also looking into offering its own insurance program to its customers.

Apple expected each car to sell for more than $120,000, but the company is now aiming to bring cars to consumers for less than $100,000, according to people familiar with the matter. , will be about the same price range as the entry-level versions of Tesla’s Model S and Mercedes-Benz’s EQS.

Apple has yet to finalize the design of its own vehicle, and the vehicle is believed to be in the “pre-production” stage. The company aims to have the design ready by next year and have the feature set by the end of 2024. It will then undergo extensive testing in 2025.

Apple has previously discussed launching a vehicle similar to Canoo Inc.’s Lifestyle Vehicle. We aimed for an interior like a limousine where passengers face each other. The current plan is to produce something like a traditional car with a driver’s seat.

The company has been in talks with a number of suppliers about acquiring its electric vehicle platform, known in the industry as “Skateboard,” but is still looking for partners. Apple has previously discussed licensing the platform with multiple companies, but the only serious negotiation took place with Volkswagen AG several years ago. will be

The car’s design is led by Ulrich Kranz, former CEO of Canoe, and former manager of Tesla, Lamborghini and Porsche. The software side of the system is led by former Tesla manager Stuart Bowers, while safety engineering, testing and regulatory issues are handled by former Ford Motor Company executive Desi Wojkasiewicz.

The Apple Automotive organization of approximately 1,000 employees is spread across campuses in Sunnyvale, California. Ottawa; Zurich; and Arizona. Much of the underlying engineering work, industrial design and software development will be done in Sunnyvale, but some of the future operating systems for the car will be developed in Ottawa. Ottawa said the company poached workers from his QNX for his BlackBerry, a longtime maker of automotive software, in 2016. .

https://www.ocregister.com/2022/12/07/apple-scales-back-self-driving-car-and-delays-debut-till-26/ Apple scales back self-driving cars, delays debut until 2026 – Orange County Register

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