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Apple has altered the launch date, price, and functionality of its planned self-driving car due to unavailable technology.
According to reports, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is delaying the debut of its much-anticipated self-driving car until 2026. The tech powerhouse’s executives opine that the current technology does not adequately support Apple’s vision for a fully autonomous automobile.
Assessment of Apple Self-Driving Car Project So Far
Apple has been very vocal about its self-driving car agenda for a while now. The consumer electronics heavyweight plans to use this autonomous car initiative, called Titan, to break into the automotive market. Initially scheduled for a release in 2025, the original Apple autonomous vehicle stood to be the first of its kind. This fully independent feature would see Titan attain functionality without needing a steering wheel or foot pedals.
However, due to the lack of necessary existing technology and several shakeups on the Titan team, Apple is forced to make some concessions. In addition to scaling back its autonomous car launch date by a year, the company is also compromising on the ‘fully autonomous’ selling point. Reports state that the 2026 Apple self-driving automobile will no longer be fully autonomous but feature a steering wheel and pedals instead. Furthermore, inside sources noted that this less ambitious approach will have limited autonomous capability only on highways. According to those in the know, Apple will power the vehicle with a technological system that has the combined power of four highest-end Mac chips. In other words, Titan’s self-driving functionality will mirror more conventional driver assist options like Ford’s BlueCruise and GM’s Super Cruise.
Apple’s self-driving car could also make its market debut at less than $100K, presumably due to its reduced autonomous functionality. The multinational tech company had initially angled for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) above $120K.
Another stumbling block to Apple’s Titan plans is the executive shake-ups on its autonomous car team. For example, engineering executive Doug Field departed for established automobile player Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F). Field had led the team on the Titan project before his exit. Before his departure, several key players also left the Titan project.
EV Space Struggling with Limited Technology for ‘Fully’ Autonomous Driving Attainment
Apple’s latest changes to its autonomous car project underline the challenges faced in breaking into a new product category. In addition, the setbacks the company is experiencing also highlight the technological hurdles plaguing other established EV manufacturers. Companies like Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) have even come under fire for promoting misleading fully autonomous features in an industry that seeks to actualize self-driving. Tesla’s alleged situation of false advertising eventually resulted in a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice after a series of accidents. Reports stated that the casualties, some of whom died, were actively using Tesla’s Autopilot system at the time of the accidents. In addition, these casualties were unaware of the ‘limited’ capability of the autonomous system.
In other related developments, Tesla revealed that it would transition from ultrasonic sensors to cameras.