Tech giant Apple has increased its autonomous vehicle testing efforts, boosting its team of test drivers in 2024, despite the Apple Car project remaining firmly stuck in neutral. While the project isn’t progressing as expected, Apple appears determined to keep the wheels turning on its self-driving car ambitions.
Last year Apple made headlines by assembling the largest team of autonomous vehicle testers ever, surpassing the 200-mark. However, shortly thereafter, the company scaled back its efforts significantly, leaving many wondering about the fate of the Apple Car project. Fast-forward to 2024, and Apple is once again making moves in the autonomous vehicle arena.
According to recent reports, Apple has increased its test driver count to 162, an indication of renewed commitment to perfecting autonomous driving technology. Alongside these drivers, the company boasts a fleet of 68 autonomous vehicles currently undergoing rigorous testing.
It’s worth recalling that back in 2022, there was widespread speculation that Apple might release its own electric vehicle by 2026. Excitement was high, and enthusiasts eagerly awaited any updates on Apple’s automotive endeavors. However, as we entered the fall of 2023, those hopes began to wane.
Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo threw cold water on the excitement when he predicted that the Apple Car project had hit a roadblock, with no release date in sight.
So, what is Apple’s current standing in the race for autonomous vehicle supremacy? While the company may have scaled down its testing efforts temporarily, it’s clear that it is not ready to throw in the towel just yet. With 162 test drivers and 68 autonomous vehicles on the road, Apple remains a player in this high-stakes game.
However, it’s essential to put Apple’s efforts into perspective by comparing them to the competition. Tech companies and traditional automakers have been pouring billions into autonomous vehicle research and development. Tesla, with its Autopilot system, has been at the forefront of this technology, albeit not without its fair share of controversies and setbacks.
Companies like Alphabet’s Waymo and General Motors’ Cruise have also made significant strides in the autonomous vehicle arena, with extensive testing programs and varying results – cue GM’s Cruise which is as good as gone. Even traditional automakers like Ford and BMW have entered the fray, aiming to bring self-driving cars to the masses in the coming years.