Around two weeks ago, Apple obtained permission to begin testing its self-driving vehicle technology in California. Now, Bloomberg has obtained the first images of the vehicles Apple is using to test its autonomous car technology on the road…
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As you can see in the images, Apple is using the Lexus RX450h SUV to test its self-driving technology. The vehicle is, of course, outfitted with a wide variety of sensors, including Velodyne Lidar’s 64-channel lidar, at least two radars, and a series of cameras. At this point in the process, it appears that the sensors and other accessories are ones bought off the shelf from other companies, rather than ones Apple designed itself.
The use of hardware from other companies further suggests that Apple is focusing more on the software-side of self-driving cars, rather than building its own hardware and/or car. Of course, this could change as the company continues to test and expand its efforts
While Apple has yet to comment on its self-driving car efforts, these pictures offer the first look at its initiative. Apple isn’t the only company using Lexus SUVs to test self-driving efforts, as it’s something Google is doing as well. Though, Google also has a partnership with Chrysler for its electric minivans.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Apple had obtained permission from the state of California to officially begin testing self-driving cars in California. Apple’s name was added to the list of companies with Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permits on the Department of Motor Vehicles website in California after two years of reports that Apple had been testing self-driving car technology.
A variety of other hints had emerged concerning Apple’s self-driving efforts. Apple partner Didi Chuxing opened its own self-driving lab near Apple in California, while the company also appeared on a letter to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urging the department not to restrict autonomous vehicle testing.
Currently leading Apple’s autonomous driving efforts is ex-hardware lead Bob Mansfield. The company was originally believed to be building its own car, but has now shifted its focus to self-driving software. With cars now on the road, it’s clear that this is an area in which Apple has a vested interest.