TWO of Apple’s self-driving cars, which are currently undergoing testing, were involved in accidents in August, according to records at California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The first incident occurred in San Diego on August 19 and involved one of the Apple cars being struck by a Hyundai while stopped in traffic.
In the second incident on August 23, one of the self-driving cars was rear-ended by a Subaru, also while stopped in traffic — this time near Apple’s HQ in Cupertino, which lies in California’s Silicon Valley.
Both accidents were minor, resulting in no injuries.
Both of Apple’s Lexus RX 450h vehicles were in manual mode at the time, i.e., they were under a driver’s control. As such, neither the self-driving technology nor the Lexus drivers were found to be at fault.
Apple has been testing self-driving technology since 2017 using Lexus SUVs, all of which are occupied at all times by two people.
The two collisions in August mark the first incidents involving Apple’s test vehicles since 2019, the last of which also involved one of the cars being struck from the rear while stopped in traffic.
According to the California DMV, Apple’s on-road testing of its self-driving technology has increased steadily since 2017, with over 18,000 miles recorded in 2020.
It is likely, judging by those trends, that both recent incidents represent the greater probability of being involved in a collision resulting from increased time spent on the road.
All companies testing autonomous driving technology on California’s roads must file a report with the state’s DMV on how many times the software “disengages” or, in other words, forces the driver to take back control.
The 2020 statistics for Apple show 130 disengagements, or one every 144.6 miles. That’s in contrast to the 2019 numbers which showed 64 disengagements, though with just 7,544 miles covered that year, that’s one disengagement every 117.8 miles, showing something of an improvement in the machine-learning software.
Apple is thought to have been developing its own car since 2014. Analysts have recently suggested that a new Apple car may be launched in the next three to six years and could be based on the same electric vehicle platform as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, with Hyundai as Apple’s manufacturing partner.
Apple was previously reported to have been in talks with an Austrian contract manufacturer, Magna Steyr, though those negotiations seem to have broken down.
Apple, of course, has a huge fanbase and following, so until there are any definitive announcements from Cupertino, be sure to expect a lot more speculation about the specs and manufacturing partners of any spectral Apple car.
- After reading about the Apple self-driving car incidents, you may be interested to read that self-driving cars could be allowed on the UK’s roads later this year
- In his final days in office, Donald Trump pardoned an ex-Google self-driving car engineer charged with stealing trade secrets.
- Take a look at the Mini Urbanaut: the self-driving living room on wheels