Apple’s plan to make a self-driving vehicle is back on track, according to an unconfirmed report from a very reliable source. But the Apple Car won‘t be out for several years.
Still, as part of the effort the company recently snapped up Tesla’s head of autonomous vehicle software development to work on the project.
The current intention is a true autonomous vehicle, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. “The goal is to let a user to input their destination and be driven there with little or no other engagement,” reports Gurman.
He spoke with engineers on the project who asked to remain anonymous.
Gurman is considered among the most reliable of Apple prognosticators. He has an 89.1% accuracy rating on AppleTrack.
Starts and stops for the Apple Car
Apple’s quest for an autonomous vehicle started in 2014, but was allegedly downshifted several years to making underlying autonomous driving technology to be licensed to other companies.
That’s changed, and Apple tasked engineers with designing the interior, exterior and drive system, according to Gurman. Former Tesla VP Steve MacManus, who’s been at Apple since 2019, is involved in that effort. But insiders warn the company could shift gears again by returning to just making self-driving tech for licensing.
But for right now, Cupertino has its eyes on the full Apple Car. To bring it about, the company hired former Tesla executive Stuart Bowers at the end of 2020, according to Bloomberg. Previously, he was in charge of Tesla’s Autopilot Software Team.
They are part of a team of several hundred on the project. Starting in late 2020, it is part of Apple’s artificial intelligence division. Apple CEO Tim Cook described self-driving cars as “the mother of all AI projects” back in 2017.
But don’t expect the Apple Car to drive off the lot any time soon. Development might take five to seven more years, according to Gurman’s sources.