The ultimate goal of Project Titan remains mostly unclear outside the company. Although CEO Tim Cook suggested in 2017 that the firm was developing self-driving software to be used by car companies, its poaching from Tesla of high-profile engineering executive Doug Field recently was seen as a possible indication it was aiming to build its own autonomous vehicles.
More than 50 technology firms and car makers have permits to test self-driving vehicles on California public roads. Google spin-off Waymo pioneered the technology and appears to be leading the pack on developing it — albeit with issues (paywall).
Among autonomous vehicle accidents reported to the DMV, rear-enders are common, and industry observers have noted these crashes appear to be caused frequently by the robot cars driving in a more hesitant fashion than vehicles driven by humans.
“Autonomous cars make other drivers worse,” the Wall Street Journal said in a 2015 op-ed, when the hit-from-behind issue started to become apparent.
“A driver in Google’s neighborhood … reported ‘Google cars drive like your grandma.’ ”
Apple has significantly ramped up its public-roads testing program for autonomous vehicles in California. After having permits to test only three vehicles last year, by this May it had 55, putting it second behind GM — with 104 permits — for number of test cars authorized to drive on the state’s public roads, this news organization reported.
Unlike Waymo, which has been public about many aspects of its autonomous-vehicle program, Apple has kept its program largely secret, with bits of information trickling out through public records of government agencies.