Apple’s self-driving car fleet lags behind Waymo and GM

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Apple Car
Apple's Lexus is decked out in sensors.
Photo: Bloomberg

Apple’s fleet of self-driving cars is expanding at an astonishing pace after starting with just three vehicles a year ago.

New records posted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles reveals that Apple currently has the third largest number of autonomous cars in the state, but it’s closing the gap on the Google’s self-driving car project that holds the number two spot.

Former Tesla VP returns home to work on Apple Car

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Apple car
The Apple Car project just got another valued team member.
Photo: Aristomenis Tsirbas/Freelancer

Doug Field, a former Vice President of Mac Hardware Engineering at Apple, has returned to the company after spending several years at Tesla.

The interesting part? At Tesla, Field was employed as the Vice President of Vehicle Programs with a role overseeing development of new electric vehicles for the company. Now that he is back at Apple, he is reportedly working as part of the “Project Titan” Apple Car group.

Ex-employee accused of stealing Apple Car plans pleads not guilty

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Apple's Car
Xiaolang Zhang is being charged with stealing trade secrets.
Photo: Aristomenis Tsirbas/Freelancer

The former Apple employee arrested for allegedly stealing plans for the Apple Car has pleaded not guilty to his charge.

Xiaolang Zhang was indicted on one single charge of trade secret theft. He’s accused of stealing a 25-page blueprint for a circuit board for Apple’s autonomous vehicle.

Ex-Apple employee arrested for stealing Apple Car secrets

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Apple car
Apple constantly faces the threat of industrial espionage.
Photo: Aristomenis Tsirbas/Freelancer

An Apple employee who downloaded blueprints for its self-driving car circuit board and then attempted to flee with them to China has been arrested.

Xiaolang Zhang supposedly told Apple of his plans to join a Chinese self-driving car startup, Xiaopeng Motors, shortly before booking his flight. He was arrested on July 7 after going through the security gates at San Jose airport.

Cult of Mac Magazine: Everything you need to know about the iOS 12 beta, and more!

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ios 12
Watch out. The iOS 12 public beta may lave you in need of a public telephone.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

In this week’s Cult of Mac Magazine: The public beta of iOS 12 is out now, so anyone can download it and install it on their device. But what does the new version of iOS actually do? Apple introduced Screen Time, the great new Do Not Disturb, and the powerful Siri Shortcuts at the WWDC 2018 keynote in June. But until you dig into them, you won’t have an idea how great these new features are, along with many more.

You’ll find that story and more in this issue. Get your free subscription to Cult of Mac Magazine from iTunes. Or read on for this week’s top stories.

Popular YouTuber helps Apple develop in-car VR entertainment

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Mark Rober
Apple has some fascinating (if dangerous) research projects underway.
Photo: Mark Rober

Apple has recruited popular science YouTuber Mark Rober to work as part of its top secret special projects group, developing a VR on-board entertainment system for self-driving cars.

Rober has been working with Apple for the past several years, although he has kept news of Apple’s identity secret. In a Reddit AmA, he described it as a “large tech company in the Bay Area.” His name was revealed as part of several patent applications Apple has recently filed.

Apple now has second biggest fleet of self-driving test cars in California

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lexus
The 2015 Lexus RX450h is Apple's vehicle of choice.
Photo: Lexus

Apple still hasn’t publicly announced its plans when it comes to autonomous cars. However, in the meantime it continues to grow its fleet of self-driving test cars — which are now the second largest in the state of California.

At present, Apple has 55 self-driving vehicles that it is testing on public roads. That’s up from just three in April 2017, little over one year ago. In March this year, that number was at 45. Apple lags only behind GM Cruise, which has 104 test vehicles on the road.

Today in Apple history: Apple teams with Volkswagen for VW iBeetle

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The first Apple car, a collaboration with VW known as the iBeetle, rolls onto the scene.
The first Apple car, a collaboration with VW known as the iBeetle, rolls onto the scene.
Photo: Volkswagen

April 22: Today in Apple history: Apple teams with VW for the iBeetle April 22, 2013: The world gets its first Apple car. Well, kind of.

In reality, the iBeetle is a collaboration with German carmaker Volkswagen that offers a car “stylistically linked” to Apple. This means Apple-inspired colors, a built-in docking station for your iPhone, and a special app that lets you control the car’s features.