Cupertino puts pedal to the metal on Apple car road tests

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The Apple Car won‘t look anything like this. At all.
Apple test cars drove more miles in 2020 than the previous year. And they were apparently more reliable.
Illustration: Cult of Mac

Apple Car on-road testing increased substantially in 2020. The number of miles driven went up 2.5 times. It’s another sign the company is getting more serious about its self-driving vehicle.

Apple told the California Department of Motor Vehicles that its autonomous vehicles drove 18,805 miles in 2020, according to Bloomberg. That’s up from 7,544 miles in the preceding year.

Apple Car is getting safer

The company’s tech is apparently getting more reliable. The in-car backup driver had to take over from Apple’s software every 145 miles, on average. That’s an improvement from in 2019, when the driver had to resume control every 118 miles.

And 2020 was hugely better than 2018. Although test Apple Cars drove about 80,000 miles that year, the driver had to take over on average every 1.15 miles.

Of course, this data only includes test miles driven in California. Testing done elsewhere isn’t included.

Apple’s self-driving vehicle could be coming around the bend

Apple has been hard at work on a self-driving car since 2014, and there’s been a flurry of leaks about the company’s plans recently. Apple hired Porsche’s head of chassis development to work on the hardware. And Tesla’s chief of autonomous vehicle software development recently joined Apple’s secretive car project, too.

A trusted analyst reports that Cupertino’s self-driving car could be on the road as early as 2025. But it’ll cost even more than ordinary non-autonomous electric vehicles.