Apple Expands its Fleet of Self-Driving Vehicles to 27 as it Focuses on Catching up to Competition

BY Evan Selleck

Published 25 Jan 2018

As is par for the course with most things, Apple isn’t typically first in a single category, but it uses that time to improve on key areas as it works towards cashing, and surpassing, the competition.

That appears to be the case with its self-driving vehicle efforts. As reported recently by Bloomberg, Apple has expanded its fleet of autonomous vehicles in California, adding a total of 24 new vehicles to the list — bringing the fleet to 27 vehicles. Back in April of last year, when the program was initially unveiled, the company was only working with three vehicles, so this is certainly a big update for the fleet.

The new vehicles were registered in the state of California between July of last year and January of this year. They are all the same models, the Lexus-branded RX450h that was pictured in the wild last year. This effort to build up the self-driving fleet, according to the report, is an effort to catch up to the competition that has already been working in the space for quite some time, including the Alphabet-owned Waymo.

“Apple Inc. has expanded its California self-driving test fleet to 27 vehicles as it accelerates efforts to catch up with competitors such as Alphabet Inc’s Waymo.

Since receiving a permit to test three autonomous cars in California last April, the iPhone maker has registered 24 more Lexus RX450h sport-utility vehicles, the California Department of Motor Vehicles said in an emailed response to questions. The iPhone maker’s initial registration involved Lexus SUVs leased from Hertz Global Holdings Inc.”

Unfortunately, any additional information on this front is pretty light. It appears that Apple is simply expanding and building up its fleet of vehicles, more than likely in an effort to put its self-driving systems to the test in more situations out in the wild.

Since the discovery of the program, Apple has already published research on the initiative, and the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, has weighed in on autonomous driving systems, saying at the time last year that it is “the mother of all AI projects”.

Our Take

While this news itself is pretty small, it goes to show that Apple isn’t giving up on the self-driving vehicle craze, and sees plenty of room to grow and capitalize on the future of that market. It feels like such a long time ago that we were all talking about Apple launching a real car, which is probably still a pipe dream for the higher-ups at Apple to this day.

After Apple irons out self-driving software, what do you think the chances are we still see an Apple-branded car in the future?

[via Bloomberg]