Apple has finally hopped on the bandwagon to join the self-driving car revolution. However, this may not come as a big surprise to many as Apple did not keep their future initiative for Project Titan a secret. But consumers are best advised not to hope for an iCar anytime soon. Rather Apple has followed suit right after Microsoft and decided to facilitate the cars with their technology in collaboration with Toyota.
The news broke out after the California Department of Motor Vehicles awarded the permit for Apple to test its self-driving technology on public roads in the state, on 14th April, 2017.
Apple has yet to officially reveal whether they will be working on hardware for autonomous vehicles or just software. The permit allows Apple to test self-driving technology in three 2015 Lexus RX 450h luxury hybrid sport utility vehicles with six drivers, as the law of California still requires humans in the self-driving vehicles' gears in case something goes wrong.
Debates have unfurled about whether Apple should collaborate only with software or shift their focus to hardware as well. The founder of Loup Ventures, Gene Munster reasoned that "In an ideal world, Apple's car project would involve the company building the actual automobile, combining hardware and software. In reality, the complexity of designing and manufacturing a vehicle may push the company to integrate deeply with an automotive partner or partners in an effort more similar to the Apple TV - plugging Apple's technology into an existing product."
Nevertheless, Munster believes, as the tech giant already has all the necessary technologies such as iTunes and Apple Music for entertainment, Siri as a voice assistant, Apple Maps for navigation, the iPhone camera for image processing, Touch ID for security and the App Store for third-party software, the company is more than capable of producing excellent autonomous software using the above features.
But if Apple seeks to venture out into the hardware, it will likely require a manufacturing partner. Already, Apple uses Foxconn and other manufacturing partners to build iPhones, iPads and Macs, so Apple may need to collaborate with a manufacturing company to build autonomous vehicle hardware like Microsoft is doing with Toyota.
Apple will be vying against 29 other companies that already have California permits to test self-driving cars. In addition, tech rivals Tesla and Alphabet and both of whom already have a head start of a few years than Apple on developing self-driving car technology. The list also includes major automakers, including Ford, General Motors, BMW, Volkswagen, and Toyota.
However, odds just may be in favor of the two traditional car makers, Ford and General Motors as they already have their own manufacturing plants set up and thus is currently in the best position to take their autonomous car efforts to market for a monopoly.