We knew Apple could be working on an electric car, but newly surfaced information suggests they could be working on a project even more futuristic.
iDrop News first began following up on the suspicions of an Apple Car several months ago when it was discovered Apple had acquired numerous experts in the automotive business.
In May we reported on information regarding Apple’s most secretive project, the Apple Car. There were more than enough reasons to believe that Apple is working on an actual electric car, and one of those reasons was Apple’s desire to gain automotive professionals from non-competing entities.
A123, a successful large-battery producer, even went as far as settling a lawsuit against Apple for poaching many of their employees. A123 was hit even harder when Apple hired Mujeeb Ijaz, A123’s Chief Technology Officer. The connection between A123’s large-scale battery experts and automotive professionals became clear: electric Apple Car.
Apple Car Concept courtesy of 9to5Mac
It was then discovered that Apple owns multiple “secret” buildings across California, and one of them is a large-scale garage. What could this garage be used for? Well, to hide a Fiat Multipla 600 of course! This particular Fiat was delivered to Apple’s garage a few months back. It turns out Jony Ive, Apple’s lead designer, is infatuated with the Fiat brand. The classic car could be a model for a futuristic, rounded, Apple Car.
Just recently we find Apple has acquired another automotive expert, making it more obvious the rumors of an Apple Car must be true. The ex-executive of Chrysler Group, Doug Betts, has become friendly with Cupertino’s technology giant. Information was sourced from Betts’ LinkedIn profile, which states his job title at Apple as “Operations”, and works within the San Francisco Bay area.
Another interesting player being recruited into Apple’s vehicle stratosphere is Paul Furgale. Furgale is an experienced researcher in the field of automated driving, aka self-driving cars. This interesting and futuristic idea seems right up Apple’s alley.
Find below the abstract work Furgale contributed to, which was published in Intelligent Vehicles Symposium.
Future requirements for drastic reduction of CO2 production and energy consumption will lead to significant changes in the way we see mobility in the years to come. However, the automotive industry has identified significant barriers to the adoption of electric vehicles, including reduced driving range and greatly increased refueling times. Automated cars have the potential to reduce the environmental impact of driving, and increase the safety of motor vehicle travel. The current state-of-the-art in vehicle automation requires a suite of expensive sensors. While the cost of these sensors is decreasing, integrating them into electric cars will increase the price and represent another barrier to adoption.
The V-Charge Project, funded by the European Commission, seeks to address these problems simultaneously by developing an electric automated car, outfitted with close-to-market sensors, which is able to automate valet parking and recharging for integration into a future transportation system. The final goal is the demonstration of a fully operational system including automated navigation and parking. This paper presents an overview of the V-Charge system, from the platform setup to the mapping, perception, and planning sub-systems.
With $202 billion in the bank, the sky is nearly the limit with Apple. Apple could be recruiting Furgale to work on a complete transportation reinvention like the V-Charge project. They could also be working on a smaller project, such as automated driving.More realistically, Apple will be working on a self-driving car to rival its main competitor, Google. Earlier this year, Bay Area residents began reporting sightings of Apple-owned minivans sporting a large, x-shaped device mounted on the roof. These roof-mounted devices were discovered to be equipped with LiDAR sensors. These sensors are definitely being used to create mapping imagery major metropolitan areas within Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Texas, Utah, and Washington. We have previously speculated that the vans were being used to create a “street view” feature for Apple’s Maps app, but with Furgale’s acquisition to Apple we believe there could be much more to those roof-mounted LiDAR sensors.
In fact, Google has been working on a self-driving car for quite some time and is much less secretive about it than Apple. Google has been publicly testing their own driverless car since 2014, and interestingly enough, these Google vehicles include LiDAR sensors similar to the ones Apple has been spotted using. Google’s koala-faced automated car lacks a steering wheel or even pedals. Google plans to develop, and then outsource another manufacturer to produce, a driverless car similar to this one within 10 years.
With all the continuous incremental acquisitions of car developing experts, Apple seems to be plugging along diligently, to create a futuristic self-driving car to give Google a run for their money.