Apple Inc. has postponed the launch date for its self-driving electric vehicle to 2026, reported people with knowledge of the matter in a recent Bloomberg article.
Titan, Apple’s autonomous EV project, has stalled in recent months as Apple execs realized their vision for an autonomous vehicle without steering wheel and pedals vehicle isn’t possible with current technology.
Now the company is planning a scaled-down version with a steering wheel and pedals that will only support fully autonomous capabilities on highways, reported the anonymous sources.
Apple envisions a vehicle that lets driver’s do other things while moving down the freeway. An alert system would allow drivers to switch over to manual control when they enter city streets or encounter bad weather. Apple plans the initial launch for North America, then expanding its availability.
Originally, Apple sought to offer a vehicle with Level 5 autonomy, the highest level of self-driving technology available which no other automaker has attained. The revised plan is below Level 5 autonomy because it has a more limited scope.
Apple’s autonomous technology includes a powerful onboard computer system, named Denali, and a custom array of sensors. This computer system has the processing power of four of Apple’s highest-end Mac chips combined and is being developed by the company’s silicon engineering group.
This onboard computer will handle automated tasks, an approach that mimics that of other automakers, including Tesla. Apple’s system, however, will use lidar and radar senses and cameras to help the vehicle determine it’s location, see driving lanes, and calculate how far it is from objects and people. In contrast, Tesla’s product only relies on cameras, while Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo and other options use a combination.
Apple’s system also has a cloud-based component for artificial-intelligence processing. The company plans to use Amazon Web Services for hosting, at a cost of around $125 million per year.
Apple is examining the feasibility of a remote command center to assist drivers and control cars from afar during emergencies and considering offering an insurance program to customers.
Initially, Apple planned to retail the vehicle for over $120,000. Now the company plans to price it at less than $100,000, according to the anonymous sources in the Bloomberg article. Tesla’s Model S and Mercedes-Benz’ EQS retail for about the same amount.
The vehicle is currently described as being in the “pre-prototype” stage. Apple aims to have the design ready by 2023 and have features set by the end of 2024. The company plans extensive testing for 2025.