Apple has increased its fleet of autonomous test vehicles in California to 55, with 83 registered drivers, according to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The announcement means that Apple now has more autonomous test cars in the state than Waymo (51), Tesla (39), and recent entrant Drive.ai (14). Only GM Cruise has more registered vehicles, at 104.
According to the DMV, 53 companies are testing a total of 409 autonomous vehicles in California.
However, Apple has yet to apply for a driverless permit, which would allow it to test the cars without a safety driver onboard. The California DMV began issuing full driverless permits in April 2018.
A year ago, Apple had only three test vehicles in the state, but by January this year, had increased that number to 45, suggesting a major and ongoing ramping-up of its Project Titan autonomous programme.
While the programme is no secret, Apple’s ambitions in the driverless vehicle market are less clear than Waymo’s and Tesla’s – companies that, alongside Uber, dominate the headlines in this space.
Last year, a report suggested that internal disagreements at Apple had shifted the focus of Project Titan from developing a standalone vehicle to – unusually – developing ‘CarOS’ to license to other companies.
Along the way, Apple has reportedly explored incorporating augmented reality into the programme, and has even looked at reinventing the wheel, at one point favouring a spherical design, which would allow sideways movement.
The world’s most valuable company has also been developing its driverless technology to transport employees from building to building on the Apple campus – the so-called Palo Alto Infinite Loop (PAIL).
Plus: Tencent hits the road
In related news, technology and investment conglomerate Tencent has begun testing autonomous cars on public roads in Shenzhen, China. The company joins Baidu, which is testing in the capital, Beijing, and the SAIC Motor Corp and startup NIO, which are both testing vehicles in Shanghai.