Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports Apple is now aiming to unveil a fully autonomous vehicle in 2025 -- one without a steering wheel or pedals -- following the SAE Level 5 definition for full driving automation.
The report, based on comments by unnamed sources, says Apple has now finished much of the core work on a processor that will go in the first generation of the car. It was designed by Apple’s silicon engineers, rather than the car engineers at Apple. Those chip engineers designed the processors for the iPhone, iPad and Mac.
That car chip design and updated self-driving sensors will be used in retrofitted cars that have already been tested in California, the report added.
The chip is made of neural processors that use artificial intelligence required for autonomous driving, which means it will run hot and require a cooling system, according to Bloomberg.
The 2025 timeline is ambitious considering the complexities of building a fully safe self-driving vehicle based on AI. Until now, many observers thought Apple was focused on producing a fully electric vehicle with some autonomous features, not fully autonomous.
Apple has not publicly commented on any of its plans to make a car and has traditionally forbidden its engineers from leaking information about upcoming projects—subject to dismissal. As such, the Bloomberg report is more likely to be accurate and may have been leaked at the behest of top Apple officials to gauge investor reaction. Since the report was published on Thursday, Apple shares gained more than 2%.
The Apple car work, dubbed Project Titan, is being led by Apple Watch software executive Kevin Lynch, the fifth executive to oversee the project in seven years. The last top manager, Doug Field, came from Tesla in 2018 and left in September along with four other top managers. Field went to Ford.
Industry analysts are taking the Bloomberg report seriously, but Morgan Stanley said the 2025 target is very ambitious with just 2% of vehicle sales expected for Level 5 electric vehicles by 2030.