The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recently confirmed that Apple had added more than double its number of autonomous vehicles.
In fact, since the company acquired a permit to begin testing self-driving cars, its fleet has steadily grown from three test vehicles(Lexus Rx450h SUVs) to about 27 in January this year.
This figure currently stands at 55 vehicles. If the program continues at the same pace, it is expected that consumers could start enjoying these cars by 2019.
Apple prides itself on having the second largest fleet of self-driving cars in all of California.
The company comes in second place to Cruise, which is a self-driving firm that is owned by GMC.
The company boasts a fleet of 104 autonomous vehicles, nearly double that of Apple.
Nevertheless, Apple features more autonomous vehicles currently in testing than self-driving pioneer companies including as Waymo (51) and Tesla (39).
Since the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is yet to authorize Apple to start testing self-driving cars without human supervision, it intends to use 83 drivers who will be involved in the exercise.
However, to conduct tests without human involvement, the company will be required to submit a separate permit the Department of Motor Vehicle.
Waymo did so last month. In addition, the California DMV also revealed that a second undisclosed company has also requested permission to embark on driverless testing but did not give further details.
Waymo and Uber previously had more autonomous vehicles in California. For instance, Waymo had more than 100 self-driving vehicles in the state alone before it relocated to both Michigan and Arizona, whereby it has been conducting further testing.
Uber moved from California in the close of 2016 with all its 16 cars.
This situation happened after the California Department of Motor Vehicles cancelled the company’s vehicle registrations citing safety issues.
Uber obtained a new permit to conduct tests for some self-driving cars with a driver as well as mapping cars. However, the company’s permit expired in March 2018, but Uber did not renew it.
One of the main issues affecting the self-driving technology is safety. In fact, the test driver could not avoid the recent fatal accident involving one of Uber’s autonomous prototypes in time.
This Uber case shows the margin of error that companies need to consider before venturing into fully self-driving tests. Before the public starts accepting these cars as trustworthy alternatives to traditional cars, companies involved in their creation require gaining its trust.
Although human error and mechanical failure are inevitable, companies can spot problems and create adequate prevention measures to reduce the number of accidents.
Apple’s rapidly growing fleet indicates the company’s seriousness in the development of self-driving cars.
The company’s self-driving vehicle program remains a mystery to the public, although it seems to be focused on testing and gathering data for self-driving software as opposed to a completely autonomous car.