According to a Reuters report, Apple has been involved in discussions with at least four prospective suppliers for LiDAR sensors for autonomous vehicles. This is yet more evidence of the firm’s renewed determination to become a player in the self-driving car arena.
The Reuters report states that Apple wants LiDAR units that are cheaper, smaller and can be mass produced more easily than present options, which can come with a price tag of more than $100,000 and are regarded as too big and too prone to failure to be useful in mass-produced autonomous cars.
Apple reportedly wants a “revolutionary design” and is setting the bar very high.
At this stage, it’s still not clear whether the Cupertino-based firm’s aim with “Project Titan” is to manufacture its own self-driving cars or merely to supply the necessary software and hardware to other manufacturers. The report states that Apple is trying to control the “perception stage” of software and hardware, irrespective of who manufactures it.
Apart from looking for external suppliers, Apple is reportedly also busy developing its own LiDAR sensor technology.
The Reuters report further claims that the LiDAR sensor designs that Apple wants could possibly be delivered by using the techniques used in semiconductor manufacturing, which might be cheaper. The sources, however, added that Apple has been unhappy with the bulk of what it has been shown so far.
Apple has a team of 1,200 employees working on Project Titan, though it laid off 190 people in a restructuring effort recently. In 2018, it reappointed Doug Field, who used to be its VP of Mac hardware engineering, to work on the project.
The company has been testing autonomous vehicle technology in its hometown since 2017, but according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, it will take between four and six years before an “Apple Car” becomes a reality.