The first iteration of the Apple car could include a full self-driving system, according to people reportedly familiar to the matter.
Mark Gurman, a trusted Apple journalist, reported that the new head of Project Titan, Kevin Lynch, is pushing to release the Apple car with a full self-driving system. Before Lynch’s leadership, Apple was straddling the line between releasing a car with limited self-driving capabilities and a fully autonomous version, meaning no human intervention was required.
Lynch is currently the Apple Watch software executive. He became the head of Project Titan, which is in charge of everything related to the Apple Car after Doug Field left to work for Ford Motor Co. in September.
Field was in charge of Project Titan for three years and is now the Chief Officer of Advanced Technology and Embedded Systems at Ford. As part of the job, Field oversees the development of Ford’s driver assistance technology.
If the Apple Car is released with a full self-driving system, it would directly compete against Tesla, Waymo, and other companies pursuing the same goal. Other car companies seem more focused on developing driver assist technology, like Ford’s BlueCruise or GM’s Super Cruise, rather than full autonomy.
Thus far, Tesla has made massive progress with Autopilot and its Full Self-Driving (FSD) suite. Tesla has made the most progress with FSD in the last few years, resulting in the release of the FSD Beta button earlier this year. With each over-the-air update, Tesla gets closer to full autonomy, which Apple is reportedly aiming for in the first Apple Car.
Tesla has faced backlash — to levels unlike any other autonomous vehicle software developer — for its FSD Beta program and Autopilot system. Most Tesla FSD critics are from prominent agencies like the NHTSA, which often confuse Autopilot with FSD. It would be interesting to see how an Apple Car with full self-driving capability would be perceived by the public and regulatory agencies.