Is the Apple Car for Real?

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It’s no secret that Apple has been working on an autonomous – possibly electric – car. Well, either a car or parts of a car.

The details behind the code-named “Project Titan” were never very clear but it was speculated that Apple might actually be more interested in the components side of the business, considering software, hardware, and batteries are sort of its wheelhouse.

Public records from California’s DMV show that Apple has logged nearly 80,000 miles of self-driving car testing between 2017 and 2018 – a figure that provided some optimism as to where Project Titan was headed… until January of 2019, when it was revealed the company was laying off 190 staff members in its self-driving car unit, many of whom were engineers.

That’s why a newly published patent filing has people buzzing once again with speculation as to where Apple is on this whole Project Titan thing anyway. Originally filed in 2016, this patent describes a suspension system designed to “compensate for vehicle oscillations at frequencies below the primary ride frequency” – which might suggest Apple is working on a car and, you know, likes a smooth ride.

Other parts of the patent describe a haptic feedback system that’s intended to provide the driver with information that can improve situational awareness – for example, vehicle sensors could ID vehicles or pedestrians up ahead and offer feedback to the driver. This all sounds like real, actual full-on vehicle development stuff, which is supported by further indications of an iCar that Reuters reported in April: specifically, that Apple was on the hunt for a lidar sensor supplier.

But the one question that’s more important than ‘Do we want an Apple car?’ might just be ‘Do we want an autonomous car?’ – and the answer, according to a recent survey by AAA, is no. But even though 71% of respondents said they fear the technology, nearly every major auto manufacturer believes they’ll offer some kind of self-driving capabilities within the next decade.

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