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Apple Self-Driving SUV Involved in Accident in Silicon Valley

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【Summary】Despite being one of the world’s most valuable tech companies, Apple’s self-driving cars are still a work in progress. The company reported that one of their self-driving development vehicles was involved in a collision near the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley.

FutureCar Staff    Aug 31, 2018 6:24 PM PT
Apple Self-Driving SUV Involved in Accident in Silicon Valley

Despite being one of the world's most valuable tech companies, Apple's self-driving cars are still a work in progress. The company reported that one of their self-driving development vehicles was involved in a collision near the company's headquarters in Silicon Valley.

The incident occured on August 24, although it was just confirmed today.

One of Apple's Lexus RX 450h self-driving vehicles operating in "autonomous mode" was merging south on the Lawrence Expressway, a busy thoroughfare near Sunnyvale, California, when it was rear-ended by a 2016 Nissan Leaf traveling close to 15 miles per hour, according to the report posted on the California Department of Motor Vehicles website.

According to the report, the accident happened in mid-afternoon as the Apple Lexus SUV slowed down to merge onto the multi-lane roadway. While waiting for a gap in traffic to complete the merge, the Lexus SUV was struck by the Nissan.

Both vehicles sustained damage but there were no injuries, the report said. Under a safety plan filed with California regulators, a human driver must be present in the autonomous vehicle, ready to take back control if needed.

An Apple spokesman confirmed to Reuters that the company had filed the report, but did not comment further. He declined to respond to questions about whether the Nissan could have been at fault.

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An Apple self-driving test vehicle photographed near Apple's Silicon Valley headquarters

Companies testing self-driving vehicles on public roads in California must apply for a special DMV testing permit for each vehicle. Apple was granted a permit last year and has permits for over 60 vehicles. The DMV requires the permit holder to report any incidents including an autonomous car , which Apple complied with.

Apple's secretive autonomous test program was codenamed ‘Project Titan', which Apple CEO Tim Cook called the "mother of all AI projects". The company was discreetly working on the project for several years and it has remained largely under wraps until recently.

Filings in a criminal court case last month confirmed that the company had at least 5,000 employees working on the project and that it was working on circuit boards and a "proprietary chip" related to self-driving cars.

Although not much is known about how far along Apple is with its driverless technology, the company seems to be late in entering the race with automakers and tech companies to be the first to commercialize the technology.

Alphabet's self-driving arm Waymo just announced that its autonomous fleet has surpassed 9 million miles of autonomous driving on public roads—all without a major incident. Cruise LLC, the self-driving subsidiary of General Motors has been testing a fleet of Chevy Bolt EVs in San Francisco for a planned launch of a driverless ride hailing service.

The incident involving Apple's vehicle is not the first. The California DMV said it has received it has received 95 autonomous vehicle collision reports as of Aug. 31. Along with Apple, over 50 other companies were granted permits to test self-driving vehicles on California roads, including Mercedes Benz, General Motors, Tesla and BMW.


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