Apple Holding Talks With Suppliers for Self-Driving Car Sensors
Apple's autonomous car program may not be in the limelight, but the technology company is still working on coming out with driverless vehicles. Last we heard, Apple's autonomous car project wasn't doing so well. The technology giant cut 200 employees working on self-driving cars, which led us to believe that things weren't doing so well for the company. By the sounds of things, Apple has moved on and is now looking for LiDAR sensors.
Apple's Looking For Something Different
According to a report by Retuers, Apple has been talking to at least four different companies as it looks to find a supplier for "next-generation" LiDAR sensors for its autonomous vehicles. The talks are in addition to working on its own LiDAR unit. The outlet cites three unnamed sources that are familiar with the discussions.
Instead of coming out with LiDAR that's on par with what current companies have on their self-driving vehicles, Apple's more interested in the future. So the company is looking toward next-gen LiDAR that will provide its vehicles with a three-dimensional look at what's on the road.
While Apple is holding discussions on possibly getting next-gen LiDAR from an outside source, the technology company is still working on coming out with its own LiDAR system.
The unnamed sources in the report claims that Apple is still focusing on coming out with LiDAR units that are "smaller, cheaper and more easily mass produced" than what's currently on the market. Unsurprisingly, the report claims that Apple is looking to manufacture something that has a "revolutionary design." When it comes to the iPhone maker, revolutionary sounds about right.
What's Wrong With Modern LiDAR Units?
Clearly, it sounds like Apple has run into a problem that a lot of other brands have faced when attempting to come out with autonomous cars: the insane price for high-tech equipment. At the moment, Velodyne's LiDAR units lead the way as being the go-to option for brands looking to come out with Level 4 and 5 self-driving cars. The systems, though, are not only too bulky for Apple, but pricey, too, as Reuters claims they can cost roughly $100,000.
Apple is interested in something that's cheaper, more reliable, and easier to mass produce for its self-driving cars. From the sound of things, it looks like Apple is really aiming for coming out with self-driving cars that have a streamlined appearance for the masses. Again, it doesn't sound out of the norm for the company that makes the iPhone.
Finding the right company for sensors and building its own LiDAR units will take some time. So Apple might not be the first company on the road with autonomous cars, especially when you consider companies like Uber, Waymo, and Cruise Automation that are already testing self-driving vehicles in large numbers across the United States.
Still, if Apple puts its innovative spin on things and gives it a sleek design that consumers have come to love from the company, being first may not be a priority.
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