Apple has expanded its California self-driving test fleet to 69 cars and 92 drivers, according to a report from macReports. In May, it was reported that Apple had 68 self-driving test cars, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Now, it appears the company has added another one.
As for the drivers, Apple added back a few, after cutting by half the number of drivers last year. Now, it has 92 drivers for its self-driving test fleet.
Numbers have varied over the years. In November of 2018, the company reached a peak of 72 cars, then a few months later, it was 66 operating vehicles. In October of 2020, Apple had 154 drivers, but since then, the company has drastically cut its numbers of drivers by more than half to 76 drivers for its autonomous fleet.
“According to the California DMV, Apple, unlike most of the other manufacturers with large autonomous fleets, has not yet applied for a driverless permit for its autonomous vehicles. There are, however, eight manufacturers who have driverless permits for one or more vehicles in their fleet.“
In March, Apple was granted a patent for the night vision system that combines visible light, near-infrared (NIR), and long-wave infrared (LWIR) sensors for a comprehensive view of what lays ahead, which could allow an Apple Car autonomous driving system to “see” three times farther at night than a human driver.
The company has been reported to have discussed a possible partnership with a wide range of established carmakers. These include Hyundai/Kia, Nissan, BMW, and Canoo. The Hyundai/Kia idea was once presented as if it were almost a done deal, before later being dismissed – though there remains some minor partnership talk.
As for now, it’s unclear how Apple will promote its car. Rumors point to possible release dates in 2024, 2026, 2028, or beyond. Apple could also not be really developing a car itself but rather technology for vehicles.