Apple’s self-driving car looks to have finally hit the streets.
Evidence that the company is finally kicking its long-rumored auto project into full gear has mounted over the last month. With state clearance in hand and a clear directive, the only piece left out of the puzzle is the car itself — and thanks to an anonymous source, who claims to have seen the car drive out of an Apple facility and sent pics and even a GIF to Bloomberg, we now have it.
The images of the new ride shows a self-driving Lexus RX450h SUV outfitted with an array of sensors, cameras and other autonomy-granting goodies like we’ve seen on other demo vehicles from competitors. The report notes the car appears to use LiDAR sensors made by Velodyne, which have been used by other companies in the self-driving space, along with other components that were likely purchased from other third-party sources.
That means that at this stage in the game, Apple isn’t working on the hardware for its self-driving system, like Google X-spinoff Waymo. But Apple is reportedly focused on developing the software behind an autonomous platform before shifting gears to other aspects of the platform, so that should come as no surprise.
Apple’s had to jump through a few hoops to get to this point. First, the company was granted permission by the California DMV to test three self-driving Lexus SUVs on public streets in the state. Then a public records request unearthed documents that fleshed out the company’s plans in greater detail, revealing that Apple is specifically working to develop an autonomous platform called the “Apple Autonomous System.”
We can’t say with absolute, 100 percent certainty that this is the “iCar” just yet. Apple declined to provide Bloomberg comment about the photos and had no statement available to answer our own request for confirmation.
Google X-spinoff Waymo and a company called Zoox, Inc. are also registered with the California DMV to run tests using the same model of Lexus SUV, so there is a tiny chance the vehicle could be one of theirs — but with the flurry of recent Apple-driven testing news and the car’s reported location, the evidence points to this being the real deal.