There is still a long way to go to see the Apple Car on Spanish roads; some forecasts speak of 2030 as the year in which it would finally be launched. But at this point, what seems certain is that it is a real project and that Apple has picked up the pace.
It is still not entirely clear if Apple will develop this car alone, or if it will partner with a manufacturer in the sector as it initially seemed; the latest leaks suggest that, at the very least, Apple would take full charge of the technology side.
The design of the Apple Car will be very accessible and full of technology, with seats that move and private screens; and it will differentiate itself from the benchmark in the Tesla sector, by betting on LiDAR technology.
Apple Car will have LiDAR
LiDAR is a radar technology that uses lasers to measure distances precisely. It is a name that will sound a lot to us if we have a new iPad Pro or an iPhone 12 Pro or 12 Pro Max, since it is integrated into those devices. Apple uses LiDAR as one more sensor to improve photography, as well as to open up more possibilities in augmented reality.
But Apple’s bet goes much further. Today Bloomberg has revealed that Apple is already in contact with suppliers of parts and components to develop or obtain LiDAR sensors for its next car, which has been called “Project Titan” internally.
These conversations are active with several potential suppliers, although their names have not been made public due to the “private nature of the discussions.” The sources have been able to confirm that the LiDAR systems that are in negotiation would allow the car to ‘see’ its surroundings.
Different from Tesla
Apple has spent years developing the algorithms and machine learning necessary to understand that data and apply it to driving; and not necessarily just autonomous driving, although the Apple Car is expected to be capable of driving itself.
This week, Apple has received three patents related to Project Titan, as revealed in Patently Apple. And ‘coincidentally’, one of them has a lot to do with the LiDAR negotiations leaked to Bloomberg.
The patent explains how the data obtained by LiDAR can be used to create a windshield with augmented reality. The patent presents 3D graphics generated by the car in the areas of interest.
An example of use is to show the road even if it is not visible, by placing a three-dimensional model of the route on the windshield and showing where the road is going, even if it is behind terrain elevations. Floating objects are also displayed on the road, which can present information about our route without having to look away.
This vision of Apple would be very different from that of Tesla. Elon Musk is famous for having scrapped LiDAR, betting everything on image recognition technology, which works only with the cameras that are already built into all Tesla models.
It is a bet that has earned much criticism, and the most common problems with the Tesla Autopilot can be attributed to the lack of in-depth data provided by LiDAR; But for now, Tesla maintains that its system will improve with time and use.
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