This Friday, the California DMV website published that an Apple Inc (AAPL.O) self-driving car was rear-ended when it was trying to merge onto an expressway near the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters in August. This is the first time an Apple self-driving car has met with an accident.
The accident details say that the vehicle in question was in autonomous mode at the time, and sustained moderate damage in the crash. It does not fault Apple for the collision. The report states,” On August 24th at 2:58 p.m., an Apple vehicle in autonomous mode was rear-ended while preparing to merge onto Lawrence Expressway South from Kifer Road. The Apple self-driving car test was traveling less than 1 mph waiting for a safe gap to complete the merge when a 2016 Nissan Leaf contacted the Apple test vehicle at approximately 15 mph. Both vehicles sustained damage and no injuries were reported by either party.”
An Apple spokesman confirmed the company filing a report but declined to give a response to questions about whether the trailing car could have been at fault.
In 2017, Apple secured a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California and since then the company has been testing cars on the road and now has permits for more than 60 vehicles. Researchers also published their first public research on a software system that could help spot pedestrians more readily in cars last year.
Apple has been testing its self-driving software in Lexus RX450h SUVs since early 2017. It seems like Apple has at least 5,000 employees working on the autonomous driving project, working on circuit boards and a “proprietary chip” related to self-driving cars.
The safety of self-driving cars has caused quite some concern for U.S. transportation regulators especially after one of Uber Technologies Inc’s [UBER.UL] vehicles hit a woman in March 2018 in Arizona that led to her death. After temporarily ceasing testing efforts, Uber plans to have self-driving cars back on the road by the end of the year.
The California DMV reportedly received 95 autonomous vehicle collision reports as of August 31. In accordance with a safety plan filed with California regulators, a human driver must be able to take control of Apple self-driving car.
Furthermore, rumors suggest Apple is working on its own Apple-branded vehicle that could come out by 2025. It is also working on ‘Palo Alto to Infinite Loop’ (PAIL), a self-driving shuttle service that can transport employees between Apple’s offices in Silicon Valley.