Apple is reportedly in discussion with a number of potential LiDAR suppliers for its Apple Car and is said to be pondering the best approach.
Apple is still searching for the right supplier of LiDAR sensors for its Apple Car and is in discussion with a number of potential partners, according to a report. The Apple Car, which is thought to have been under development for a number of years already, is expected to be an autonomous passenger vehicle of some sort. LiDAR would be used as one means of allowing the vehicle to ‘see’ what is around it.
LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging and it maps surroundings by firing lasers thousands of times a seconds to build up a highly detailed picture of what is around. It is already used by a number of those developing autonomous cars, including Alphabet’s Waymo and General Motors’ Cruise, but not by Tesla, interestingly, which has chosen to use computer vision only as a means for mapping the world around its vehicles. Apple, meanwhile, has some experience of working with LiDAR, having integrated LiDAR sensors into its iPad Pro tablet and iPhone 12 Pro smartphone.
Autonomous cars are, of course, a different prospect, which is no doubt why, according to Bloomberg, Apple is “yet to settle on a preferred supplier for lidar and that it’s likely mulling a range of options, including a heavily customized version of the sensors.” Citing “people familiar with the matter” who have asked to remain anonymous due to the secrecy of the Apple Car project, Bloomberg says Apple has developed most of the software, processors, and artificial intelligence algorithms it needs for its car, but that it is looking for external suppliers to provide certain pieces of critical hardware. The LiDAR sensors it is supposedly looking at will apparently be considered cutting edge in four to five years’ time, which suggests that is when Apple is aiming to launch its car.
Apple Car Timeline & What To Expect
Indeed, Bloomberg says that staff members within Apple have previously told it that the launch of an Apple Car is at least five years away. Earlier reports had suggested that production could start as early as 2024, which could still just about line up with that. Of course, it will need to get its production partner in place well before that, with its will-they-won’t-they saga with Hyundai and/or Kia having been well-publicized of late.
Whatever is ultimately produced, we can be sure that it will have autonomous driving capabilities. However, there have also been reports that the Apple Car will be fully autonomous to the extent that it would be designed for use without a driver at all. This would suggest Apple is looking to create so-called ‘robotaxis’ that could ferry that could help usher in the new era of mobility that has been widely touted as the successor to the current automotive paradigm. That would certainly line up with Apple’s form for disrupting industries.
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