US: To test the on-road safety of its self-driving car technologies, tech giant Apple is planning to expand its fleet of self-driving cars from 3 to 27. Approved in April last year, Apple started the self-driving technology project, dubbed as “Project Titan.”
The project will use the fleet of Lexus SUVs just like it was used for its last 3 vehicles. Equipped with Velodyne’s LiDAR imaging sensor, the cars were registered to test on public roads in California.
Apple’s vehicles are also outfitted with radar sensors and a computing stack on the outside that are designed to help support the LiDAR sensors in visualizing the world around the vehicle.
The move is a big step forward for Apple’s self-driving technologies, which appear to be slightly different from its competitors’. After initially exploring building an autonomous, electric car, Apple refocused the effort in early 2017 around designing software and artificial intelligence (AI) that help cars drive themselves.
Last month Apple was awarded with a patent that would allow its system to rely on machine learning and AI-based software, that leverages a car’s sensors to constantly create a new virtual image of everything around the car, without needing to rely on maps or other external data.
However, if Apple is able to develop a more versatile autonomous system with unique features, such as non-mapping based autonomy, it could make up ground against Waymo, Intel, Nvidia and other suppliers.