Apple expands self-driving car test fleet by 24 units of Lexus RX450h hybrid SUVs

Apple CEO Tim Cook did admit last year that the company was working on an autonomous car system, which he described as "the mother of all AI projects." Speculatively, the addition of Lexus hybrid SUVs is part of the Project Titan.

By: | Published: January 27, 2018 12:00 PM

Apple is going full-throttle with its self-driving car technology and has now expanded its fleet to 27 autonomous cars in California. The American tech giant has achieved significant progress in the field of self-driving cars but has largely remained tight-lipped about the details. Apple had initially registered three vehicles for autonomous testing with California's Department of Motor Vehicles in April 2017. A latest Bloomberg report says that Apple has now added 24 more vehicles to its test fleet, all of which are Lexus RX450h hybrid SUVs. Apple acquired two Lexus SUVs for the purpose in July last year, seven more in October, two more in November, six more in December, and seven more this month.

As the world's automotive companies inch closer towards the realisation of the dream of cars driving on their own, Apple too is running strong in the race with other companies working on the technology such as Alphabet's Waymo.

Apple kicked off work on its ambition to develop driverless car technology to build a vehicle from scratch under codename Project Titan. However, scaling down a bit from its original plans, Apple is now working instead on a self-driving car platform that automobile manufacturers can use on their vehicles.

When testing on Apple's driverless cars began in California, the company could no longer deny Project Titan's existence. In an interview last June with Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook admitted that the company was working on an autonomous car system, which he described as "the mother of all AI projects."

Also read: Meet General Motors’ first car with no steering or pedals: Self-Driving Cruise AV

However, Apple chooses to keep the cards to its chest. In October 2017 though, the Apple self-driving car technology was spotted in the streets of Silicon Valley in the form of an array of sensors and hardware on the roof of a Lexus SUV. The rack of sensors and hardware included six Velodyne LIDAR sensors, along with several cameras and radar units. A month after, Apple published research that detailed a new software for improving obstacle detection for driverless vehicles.

Also read: Meet Robocar, a self-driving race car that could give Lewis Hamilton a run for his money

It still isn't known if and when Apple will disclose its breakthroughs in self-driving technology. However, the company expanding the test car fleet to 27 may indicate that Apple is nearing the realisation of Project Titan and could finally unveil the technology.

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