Apple’s Self-Driving Car Still Struggling and Nearly Hit a Jogger: Report

A new report from The Information explores “Apple’s eight-year struggle to build a self-driving car,” and in doing so divulges several details about the design of Apple’s latest prototypes.

Apple’s bid to create its own car, internally codenamed “Project Titan,” has been a long journey with lots of bumps along the way. The Project Titan team has become somewhat of a revolving door for executives and engineers. Apple’s automotive efforts are currently led by Apple Watch chief Kevin Lynch, who took charge last year.

According to The Information‘s sources, Project Titan managers want to make a car that doesn’t rely on the detailed but costly 3D maps that other self-driving technologies out there use. While Apple has fared well in doing so during some tests, others have left much to be desired from the company’s solution. One of the sources even said an Apple Car prototype almost hit a jogger in recent tests.

As for physical appearance, the report claims the latest iteration of the Apple Car’s design features four inward-facing seats and a curved ceiling similar to the roof of a Volkswagen Beetle. There’s even talk of the seats being able to recline flat so passengers can sleep inside the vehicle.

In addition, designers are working on a trunk compartment that automatically raises and lowers for easy access. They’ve also discussed mounting large screens that raise and lower to the backs of seats.

We already saw how Apple’s automotive software can take advantage of large car screens during a preview of the company’s next-generation CarPlay last month. Apple’s CarPlay update gives us a taste of what we can expect from the Apple Car when it comes to software. The hardware, however, is still very much under wraps.

Apple is completely committed to the “self-driving” bit, it would seem. The report indicates Apple is pursuing exemptions from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to eliminate the steering wheel and brake pedal from its planned car.

Former Apple design chief Sir Jony Ive continues to consult on Project Titan, The Information said. Apparently, Ive has advised Apple Car designers to “lean into the weirdness of the vehicle’s design and not try to hide its sensors.” Ive was supposedly also responsible for suggesting the Apple Car do away with the steering wheel.

During one test of Apple’s self-driving car software, the vehicle did not identify a jogger at an unmarked crosswalk, and nearly hit the person but was saved at the last minute by the human driver intervening. That jogger incident temporarily pulled Apple’s self-driving fleet off the road.

According to the report, Apple is currently trying to figure out how to camouflage the latest Project Titan design for public testing. That said, Apple CEO Tim Cook is likely still years away from showing off a car on stage.