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Self-driving vehicles have become the biggest thing in tech. The market for autonomous vehicles is expected to reach $33 million by 2040, but recent developments suggest that the rise of robot cars might come a lot sooner. Every major name in technology is research self-driving vehicles, from Google to Uber to even Apple. While many companies are transparent in their autonomous vehicle research, Apple has remained particularly tight-lipped about their project. However, recent rumors among the Apple-watching blogosphere seem to hint that Apple is rapidly expanding. Is the Apple iCar on the way?
Let’s hope not. That would be a terribly predictable name. Whatever Apple plans to call their autonomous system, it seems it’s been growing significantly in 2018. Earlier in the year, Apple expanded its fleet to 27 vehicles from just three when it registered 24 new Lexus RX450h SUVs. Now, AppleInsider is reporting that Apple has now expanded its fleet to 55 autonomous vehicles, a significant jump from three in just one year.
Apple tests exclusively in California, but does not appear to test on public roads as many other autonomous vehicle developers do. Apple has met with the California Department of Motor Vehicles several times, but it’s unknown what was discussed. Because it doesn’t operate on public roads, Apple is not required to share its test data with the public. Who knows what goes on Apple Park?
It’s still unclear what Apple’s ultimate plans are. It’s certain that they’re not building their own vehicle (sorry, iCar), so it’s more likely they’re creating the software and sensor systems for autonomous driving. Despite frequent rumors that apple might design a fully electric vehicle, it seems more that Apple will create an autonomous ridehailing fleet which will sync seamlessly with their well-established suite of mobile apps, cloud services, and e-commerce systems. Expect the iPhone 11 to come with a sleekly-designed car hailing app. Sorry, Lyft and Uber. You both had a good run.