Apple car reportedly due in 2028 with scaled-back self-driving goals
Apple’s oft-rumored car project is reportedly still going ahead but with a market launch later than previously thought, and without self-driving capability.
Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Apple will launch a car in 2028, or two years later than previously thought.
One of the reasons for the delay, according to the sources, was a change to an earlier plan to deliver the car with true self-driving capability on highways. Instead, Apple will reportedly now only seek to deliver it with an automated driver-assist feature ranked at Level 2 on the SAE scale of self-driving capability, or the same level as systems offered by Tesla, General Motors, and Ford.
Level 2 means a car that can drive on its own in certain conditions but requires a driver behind the wheel monitoring at all times. Level 3 is the first level where a driver can take their eyes off the road, albeit only for short periods. Mercedes-Benz is the only automaker offering such a system, though the Mercedes system, known as Drive Pilot, has strict conditions, including a severely limited number of highways where it can operate.
Apple had previously planned to develop a car that could let the driver watch a video or browse the web during highway travel, and then provide ample time for the driver to take back control when necessary. Such capability would rank the car at Level 4 on the SAE scale of self-driving capability.
The ultimate goal is Level 5, which would be a car that can match a human’s capabilities. According to Bloomberg, Apple had originally planned this level, even envisioning a car without a steering wheel and pedals. Apple also reportedly spent time working on a remote command center that could take over control for a vehicle if it became stuck.
Apple remains quiet on plans related to the car project, often referred to as Project Titan. The company has filed multiple patents in recent years related to cars and driving, and hired multiple auto industry veterans.
Apple isn’t the only tech company looking to get into the car business. Alphabet Inc.-owned Waymo is in the process of expanding its One robotaxi service to more cities, and Baidu is rapidly expanding its own robotaxi service in China. Sony also teamed up with Honda to launch the Afeela brand, whose vehicles are expected to offer a high-level of self-driving capability.