Last week we covered some evidence that could prove Apple is currently designing the Apple Car. One point that we hit is the Apple Car has to be self-driving. Considering the Apple car is set to arrive in 2020, this technology could be somewhat common place by then. Self-driving cars are not unheard of, and if Apple is good at one thing, it’s perfecting currently available technologies.
Google's Self-Driving Car
Google is the poster child for self-driving cars. They have been experimenting with sensor-laden Prii and Lexus RX vehicles for years, logging over 700,000 miles of accident-free autonomous driving. Google’s system is expensive, complicated, and it’s not perfect. But, it works. If your goal is to have a vehicle that can drive itself on the freeway in bright light with no obstructive weather, Google has you covered. For example, the self-driving cars do struggle with wet roads and dark environments. However, their current autonomous abilities are still amazing.
Google’s self-driving cars can read road signs, see a cyclist from hundreds of meters away, avoid hazards on the road and merge into oncoming traffic seamlessly. What Google has accomplished is no small feat, and has set the stage for all future self-driving cars. Using this research as a template, in May of last year, Google unveiled it’s first self-driving car prototype. This adorable little marshmallow is capable of all the aforementioned feats in autonomy, but limited by a 100 mile range and a 25 mph speed cap. Those who have been lucky enough to ride in these vehicles walk away feeling impressed and wanting this technology to succeed. The Oatmeal does an excellent write up of the impressions the Google car has left.
The Utility of Self-Driving Cars
Self-driving cars mean no human error (95% of accidents), unlimited texting, no more drunk drivers, and no more parked vehicles wasting their lives. Most of your car’s life is spent parked on the street. What if your car could drive you to work, then go chauffeur people around town? The utility of these vehicles is far greater than that of our current cars.
Currently, several other companies are working on some form of vehicle autonomy. Tesla’s electric vehicles can do all the driving in good conditions, aside from steering. Staying with the flow of traffic and staying in the lane for you is no problem, turning however is still up to you. Volvo has a fleet of over 100 vehicles similar to Google’s that are fully autonomous. These vehicles will soon be putting around Sweden, turning driver’s commuting time into productive time.
With this trend of incrementally more successful self-driving cars taking place, it’s a no brainer that a company with muscle like Apple can produce such a thing within 4 years. The Apple Car fits nicely within Apple’s values. Improving and simplifying peoples lives, great design, utility and ecology all fit within Apple’s moral umbrella and will all contribute to Apple’s self-driving cars in 2020.
-Shatter Buggy, Denver