In a significant shift for the project, the company is now planning a less-ambitious design that will include a steering wheel and pedals and only support full autonomous capabilities on highways, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.
Currently, Apple is planning to allow drivers to conduct other tasks like watching a movie or playing a game while its vehicle is autonomously driven on freeways. The vehicle would alert drivers to take control when approaching city streets or bad weather. This feature could launch in North America first and expand over time.
Team leader Kevin Lynch, who took over the project at the end of 2021, has been trying to bring stability and focus to the team. Initially, he aimed to reach "Level 5" autonomy which would have allowed for full self-driving capabilities, even on city streets. Now that goal has been scaled back to ensure a product actually reaches market.
Notably, Apple has already developed a custom processor to power its vehicle. The processor is considered nearly production ready.
The heart of Apple's technology is a powerful onboard computer system — codenamed Denali after the tallest mountain peak in North America — and a custom array of sensors. The processor's performance is equal to about four of Apple's highest-end Mac chips combined and is being developed by the company's silicon engineering group. The chip has reached an advanced state and is considered nearly production-ready, though Apple may scale it down before the car's launch to lower costs.
Bloomberg believes that Apple will use a combination of lidar and radar sensors, along with cameras, to power its self-driving system. Additionally, the system is said to use a cloud-based component for some AI processing. Currently, Apple is spending about $125 million per year with Amazon Web Services for hosting.
Apple hasn't settled on a final design for the vehicle yet; however, it's aiming to have the design ready by 2023 and the features set by 2024. The car would then undergo extensive testing in 2025. Initially, a price of over $120,000 was expected but Apple is now aiming to stay under $100,000, say sources.
Much of the testing for Apple's vehicle will likely be done at a former Chrysler track outside of Phoenix. That testing area, codenamed 'Sahara', was purchased last year by a company reportedly representing Apple. Additionally, Apple is expected to consolidate car development teams in a new 'Orchard Parkway' campus by the San Jose airport.
More details in the full report linked below...