While Uber and Waymo have been in the news for their self-driving cars and the patented technology behind them, Apple has been secretly working on their “Autonomous Navigation System.” Apple CEO Tim Cook referred to this project as the “mother of all projects.”

The iCar project, codenamed ‘Titan,’ began work in 2015.  The corresponding patent application published on December 21, 2017. Cook commented that Apple is “focusing on autonomous systems. It’s a core technology that we view as very important.”

A lot of the self-driving technologies currently being tested rely on information systems that are unyielding, such as maps and sensors that use real-time updates on items that can change daily like road construction or the weather. This technology was intended to use less computing power; unfortunately, that may not be the case. Maps, weather condition sensors, and other features can become unsafe and obsolete because the necessary updates would require “dispatching a sensor suite to re-traverse the route, which can require an expenditure of time.”

Apple feels there is better way to solve the problem. The Apple patent application suggests their new navigation system will direct a vehicle “independently of any data received from any devices external to the vehicle, and any navigation data stored locally to the vehicle prior to any monitoring of navigation.” The proposed technology would utilize a computerized model for predicting routes using sensors and processors in the vehicle.




One feature of Apple’s self-driving car technology that others do not have is the ability to provide the driver with the option to manually drive the car or utilize the automated function. It would also provide the user the option to choose an alternate route if available.    

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration granted Apple a permit for testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in California. The permit allows for three vehicles with up to six passengers who can take over driving if necessary. Apple has not commented on if or when the self-driving cars will be released.

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