Apple revives its self-driving car project with developing more cost-effective light detection and ranging sensors. The company has also asked for drastically cheaper propositions from companies that are suppliers of LIDAR technology.
Although it’s not official yet, but Apple is in talks with several LIDAR manufacturer companies. According to the unnamed sources of Reuters, Apple is running its own R&D project of these sensors and associated technologies at the same time.
The reason behind this that the company wants to drastically cut the current five-digit price-range of LIDAR packages/unit down to $1000 or less. Apple is reported to want designs that can be mass-produced by basic semiconductor processes.
The sources familiar with these talks told Reuters that Apple wants to control the whole ’perception stack’ that an autonomous car has, from the hardware components to the software algorithms.
It’s not clear at this point why would Apple need such cost-effective technology in that particular area, but the implications are thought-provoking nevertheless. If Apple managed to show up a LIDAR package at way lower prices than currently available, they would be able to sell/licence it to any car manufacturer.
Commercially available LIDAR-s hold expensive and closely guarded secrets. Apple is in a much better position capital-wise than the dozens of startups that aim to revolutionize LIDAR technology. A technological and business breakthrough would be a huge boost for the spread of autonomous vehicles on the roads, and for Apple’s revenues of course.
An at least this interesting aspect of these talks that Apple may
carreignite its seemingly dead self-diving car project ’Titan’. What can be said for sure that Apple rehired Tesla Model 3 production overseer Doug Field last August. Apple snatched another Tesla executive, who lead the development of electric drivetrains, this March.