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Apple’s autonomous car, still far from being without the wheel

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The iPhone maker, which did not immediately respond to a request from Agence France-Presse (AFP), has never publicly admitted to working on the development of an autonomous vehicle without a steering wheel, despite various leaks in the press for several years.

According to The Information, which claims to have spoken to around 20 people who were part of the project, the tech giant has experienced several hiccups, particularly with regard to the autonomous driving software, which is supposed to detect potential obstacles and adjust the driving accordingly. .

Unlike Tesla, which is testing and gradually adding autonomous functions to the software of its vehicles, or Waymo (Google) and Cruise, which have started testing their robotaxis fleets with people on board, Apple intends to market cars that are already fully autonomous. This bet is financially and technically more risky, according to the article.

He details how the project, dubbed Titan, suffered from overambition, such as trying to build a completely new car. This is in addition to numerous departures of experienced executives, in particular because of the lack of support from top management.

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Above all, engineers have wasted valuable time staging demonstrations on specific routes using technology that works there, but hardly anywhere elseassures the journalist.

Apple is testing its prototypes with a person behind the wheel in Los Angeles, San Diego and around Lake Tahoe in the United States. However, earlier this year, one of them almost ran over a pedestrian at 25 km/h, and an internal investigation determined that the incident would have taken place had it not been for the intervention in extremis of the employee behind the wheel.

A post-Steve Jobs era without a smoking gun

The rare leaks in the press about a potential Apple car are closely followed in the world of technology, where the Apple brand has earned a reputation for producing sophisticated, high-performance, intuitive and innovative electronic devices.

However, since the departure and death in 2011 of Steve Jobs, the emblematic co-founder of the Californian group, the company has not made a notable breakthrough – as the iPods and iPhones had been – beyond its watch. connected, the Apple Watch, and the diversification of its services.

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With each new product presentation, the market eagerly awaits an autonomous car or a virtual reality headset, also in development.

According to The Information, 1,000 people are currently working on Project Titan, which costs more than $1 billion a year, out of the $22 billion Apple spends on research and development.

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