By on September 1, 2018

2018 Lexus RX 350

Accident reports sometimes reveal more than just who was at fault. A rear-end collision in Sunnyvale, California, last week was truly a product of our modern age — an electric car slamming into the back of what would have been a human-operated crossover, were it not owned by Apple.

While the iPhone maker abandoned its Project Titan self-driving car project in 2016, it didn’t leave the autonomous vehicle field altogether. The August 24th collision shows it.

According to an accident report uncovered by Reuters, the Apple test vehicle was not a so-called “iCar” — a term tossed around back when Apple had a fully self-developed vehicle in its sights — but a Lexus RX 450h outfitted with autonomous driving gear.

The report claims the Apple-operated vehicle was in autonomous mode, attempting to merge onto the southbound Lawrence Expressway at less than 1 mph, when the collision occurred. While slowed and waiting for a gap to open up (in what was hopefully very slow-moving traffic), a 2016 Nissan Leaf collided with the rear of the vehicle at a speed of about 15 miles per hour.

Apple confirmed the accident report but wouldn’t say which vehicle was at fault. Neither the human minder on board the Lexus or the driver of the Leaf sustained injuries.

In June of last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed the company was indeed working on self-driving vehicle technology, calling it “the mother of all A.I. projects.” It secured a permit to test autonomous vehicles on California roads around the same time.

Still cloaked in secrecy, information on Apple’s efforts does exist. The company reportedly has 5,000 people working on the project, many of them focused on developing circuit boards and a proprietary chip. Sixty Apple test vehicle ply California’s roads, permits show. One of the tech giant’s areas of focus involves developing software to help self-driving vehicles spot pedestrians.

[Image: Lexus]

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20 Comments on “AV and EV Collide, Revealing Apple’s Self-driving Car Program in Action...”


  • avatar
    gasser

    Neither vehicle could be at fault…..the technology is 100% trustworthy.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Sometimes when you merge you have to kind of force your way in “here I am” “see my blinkers” “I’m merging here” “please don’t be an ahole” Programing that into a computer is probably not possible.

  • avatar
    thalter

    Less than 1 mph? Please. 1 MPH is about 1.5 feet per second, a speed at which would require over 30 seconds just to travel the length of my driveway from garage to street. My grandmother shuffles faster than that. You are not merging into anything at that speed. Not to mention that “Less than 1mph” is beyond the precision of most speedometers.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      That the dial on your dash doesn’t move, doesn’t mean the computers in the car don’t know *exactly* how fast the car is moving, down to whole-single-rotations-of-the-wheels. (Thanks, ABS sensors!)

      1.5 feet per second is slow, yes – and that happens when merging onto a super-congested, barely moving freeway, no?

      (You’re not merging at that speed? Then how do you merge into crawling traffic?

      I’ve DONE it; haven’t you?)

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    Didn’t SkyNet become self-aware the other day?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The involvement of the Leaf is totally irrelevant.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    This–or a thousand collisions like it–won’t slow down AV development. There’s too much money to be made by replacing all those truck drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      TimK

      Just like the money that was made over the past thirty years installing those artificial hearts? None of the AV crappola works in the real world. This latest AV/AI vehicle meme is all Silly Con Valley hype skillfully used to transfer money from naïve investors to the pockets of some already wealthy VCs. Apple and the other big players are just dabbling in the tech so as not to get blindsided if something actually does pan out.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    In 30 years, driving will be like what driving a manual transmission is in 2018. Some people will still do it, but they will be the oddballs of society. And I will happily be one of those oddballs then as I am now!!

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      We’ll be the ones passing all the automated vehicles that can’t make judgment calls.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The problem will always be driving when road conditions get sub optimal. Autonomous vehicles might be perfected for normal conditions in the next decade, but what happens when the car says take over? Look at aircraft. We still require two pilots to be there for when the automation can’t do it’s job. What happens when snow and ice block radar and laser sensors, and the road is so white that the camera can’t detect any difference? The part that scares me, is that already crappy drivers will only be actually driving a few times a year in very negative conditions.

  • avatar
    church

    I foresee problems, that such futuristic society will think bad of few left drivers, overblaming them for slowing down/interfering with automated vehicle movement (eg. not starting to go at green light within milliseconds like eg. AVs will), and for each and every trafic incident, just like currently overblown bad rap for any accident involving AVs. Bad humans! Humans err! Shouldn’t be allowed to drive and put lives at risk!
    And goverment will follow populistic policies/mindset of lazy majority not knowing/caring to drive themselves, rising to insane levels taxes & insurance costs for anyone still wishing to drive own car.
    It will probably end with retro (by then) cars be driveable by humans only on rare trackdays on special closed off tracks.

  • avatar
    JMII

    “It will probably end with retro (by then) cars be driveable by humans only on rare trackdays on special closed off tracks.”

    Kind of like horses today. The irony will be using your AI truck to “drive” your retro car to the track to enjoy driving like the good ole days.

    • 0 avatar
      Erikstrawn

      Here in Oklahoma you can still ride your horse. It’s not uncommon in the spring or fall to see people riding horses alongside the road. It’s just not too practical.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        We have horses in Massachusetts too. I have numerous neighbors that have them so it’s not unusual to see them on the road. What level of autonomy is a horse considered?

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