One of Apple's autonomous cars, currently in Sunnyvale, California and other nearby Silicon Valley cities, crashed a week ago. This is evident from a report by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. As with many self-driving car accidents, this was not the fault of the software.
The Apple Car, a modified Lexus RX450h SUV carrying special equipment and sensors, traveled at just 1 mph while preparing to merge onto the Lawrence Expressway in Sunnyvale, as a Nissan Leaf behind it roughly 15 miles per hour went. Apple's Lexus and the sheet suffered damage, but the passengers of both cars received no injuries, the report said.
This is not an indication of Apple's progress in self-driving cars in any way, since most self-driving accidents are usually caused by human error. Although it is so interesting that so many companies piloting autonomous vehicles report accidents that are postponed. A report from Consumer Affairs from last year said that in most self-driving car accidents, a human driver smashes into the back of a standing or slowly moving autonomous vehicle.
This suggests that autonomous software vendors have many hurdles ahead of ensuring capability and safety in all situations go out. "One possible explanation is that these cars do not drive like humans," said Phil Koopman, a Carnegie Mellon professor and software engineer who advises self-driving car dealerships, toward Consumer Affairs. "And if they do not drive like humans, people's expectations of vehicles would be wrong."
Autonomous software vendors may need to take into account how people behave on the road and inject some of this behavior if they want to avoid these types of crashes in the future. The mix of autonomous and man-led vehicles will continue to increase over the coming years and decades until there is a ruling on whether these vehicles are suitable for all road and weather conditions or whether they are restricted to specific areas or special lanes.
For Apple, the crash is a small but inevitable blow on the road as it continues to search for self-driving auto software. The company expanded its fleet of test vehicles in California to 27 vehicles in January and added 18 more vehicles in March. The company has also partnered with Volkswagen to create a fleet of self-propelled employee shuttles for its campus in Cupertino, with the German automaker supplying the cars and Apple the software.
It may be a long way from the company's initial projection for Project Titan, as it was called, which involved making its own electric car with built-in custom autonomous software. But Apple seems to be flying along, although it has not yet talked publicly about its car plans.