Here’s What Apple is Up Against in Autonomous Driving

Waymo Self Driving Car
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It’s not much of a secret anymore that Apple is working on a smart car. Yes, as crazy as it sounds, the company that started by creating computers is now working to build its very first electric car. 

Many of the biggest rumors also point out that the so-called Apple Car won’t be like any other car you’ve seen; Apple is trying to build a fully autonomous vehicle — a “self-driving car.” Of course, that’s easier said than done, which is why it’s still going to be a few years before we actually see this car appear. 

Apple also already has a lot of hard competition. From Tesla and General Motors to Google’s sister company Waymo and even Nvidia, everyone’s racing to create the best self-driving car in the market. Here are just a few examples of the competition Apple is facing as it strives to revolutionize the automotive industry. 

Tesla: Apple’s Biggest Competitor

When it comes to luxury tech products, two of the first companies that probably come to mind are Tesla and Apple. Tesla is possibly Apple’s biggest competition in the self-driving cars market, and it’s not just because of its relative popularity. 

Tesla’s FSD, also known as a Full Self-Driving computer, is now in its eleventh version, and it works amazingly well. As you can see in the demonstration video above, Teslas can now easily drive you on any road without many hiccups. Teslas can even identify the traffic lights and understand that it doesn’t need to stop if the traffic light isn’t even on.

Of course, you can also see in that video that the system is far from perfect. For instance, it struggled with some wider streets, and the computer even aborted unexpectedly because of a system error. While the computer came back on again almost instantly, those few seconds when the computer loses control can be disastrous. 

Another “disadvantage,” if you can call it that, is that Tesla FSD requires that you touch the wheel every now and then so the computer knows that you’re paying attention. This was reportedly implemented after a video went viral of a person sleeping while their Tesla was driving on its own.

There’s Also Waymo’s Fully Self-Driving Cars

Another big opponent for Apple is Waymo. Owned by Alphabet, the parent company that spun out of Google, Waymo already has fully functional and autonomous taxis roaming the streets of the U.S. 

Of course, as you can see in the video above, Waymo’s cars aren’t nearly as pretty as Tesla’s cars. That’s because they have a lot of sensors and cameras on the outside that are necessary to make the ride as safe as possible — but those actually make it work quite well. 

Unlike Tesla’s FSD computer, you don’t need to worry about grabbing the wheel or even staring out your windshield to hit the road. Moreover, you could virtually use Waymo’s technology in many other cars. 

With that said, Waymo is still improving its software. According to The Verge, Waymo’s self-driving cars have been involved in a total of 20 accidents. Fortunately, 18 of them were minor contact accidents, and only two of them were actual crashes. Additionally, no one was injured, which is a big plus.

What About General Motors’ Alternative?

General Motors is also betting on self-driving cars and has already released its Super Cruise and Ultra Cruise as alternatives to Tesla’s FSD technology. 

While GM’s self-driving technology might not be as popular as Tesla’s or Waymo’s, the company is still one of the best when it comes to self-driving cars — and it has over 700 test vehicles in operation in California. That’s almost as many as every other self-driving car company combined, and more than double what Waymo has out there.

As you can see in the demonstration above, GM’s car can drive just as easily as those from Tesla and Waymo. However, what makes General Motors’ alternative stand out is that you don’t need to touch the wheel to let the car know you’re paying attention. 

The wheel has a sensor that’ll track your eyes to make sure you’re looking at the road. You can still do other stuff in the car, like changing swings or drinking water, but you will have to keep your eyes on the road. 

When Will We See the Apple Car

Apple is undoubtedly working on its car technology as we speak, but it’s still too soon to talk about an official launch. Initially, several reports suggested that Apple would launch its first car by 2025, but now it’s looking like it won’t arrive until 2026 at the very earliest.

Beyond that, we still don’t have enough information about the Apple Car, but we do know that Apple likes to take its time with new products until it can release something worth getting. If the current competition in the self-driving technology market is already so far advanced, imagine what Apple can come up with in just a couple of years. 

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