Exclusive: Apple in talks with potential suppliers of sensors for self-driving cars

Exclusive: Apple in talks with potential suppliers of sensors for self-driving cars

Apple Inc has held talks with at least four companies as possible suppliers for next-generation lidar sensors in self-driving cars, evaluating the companies’ technology while also still working on its own lidar unit, three people familiar with the discussions said, reports Trend citing to Reuters

The moves provide fresh evidence of Apple’s renewed ambitions to enter the autonomous vehicle derby, an effort it calls Project Titan. The talks are focused on next-generation lidar, a sensor that provides a three-dimensional look at the road.

Apple is seeking lidar units that would be smaller, cheaper and more easily mass produced than current technology, the three people said. The iPhone maker is setting a high bar with demands for a “revolutionary design,” one of the people familiar with the talks said. The people declined to name the companies Apple has approached.

The sensor effort means Apple wants to develop the entire chain of hardware to guide autonomous vehicles and has joined automakers and investors in the race to find winning technologies.

Current lidar systems, including units from Velodyne Inc mounted on Apple’s fleet of self-driving test vehicles, use laser light pulses to render precise images of the environment around the car. But the systems can cost $100,000 and use mechanical parts to sweep the laser scanners across the road.

That makes them too bulky and prone to failure for use in mass-produced vehicles. The shortcomings have spurred $1 billion in investment at dozens of startups and mature companies alike to make lidar smaller, cheaper and more robust.

Apple’s interest in next-generation lidar sensors comes as it has sharply increased its road testing while bringing on key hires from Tesla Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

It remains unclear whether the goal of Apple’s Project Titan is to build its own vehicle or supply the hardware and software elements of self-driving car while pairing with a partner for the entire vehicle.

But what is clear from Apple’s interest in cheaper lidar systems is that it wants to control the “perception stack” of sensors, computers and software to drive an autonomous vehicle, regardless of who makes the vehicle, another person familiar with the talks said. The three people familiar with the talks declined to be identified because the discussions are not public.

In addition to evaluating potential outside suppliers, Apple is believed to have its own internal lidar sensor under development, two of the people said.

Alphabet-owned Waymo has taken a similar path, assembling a sensor and computer system while inking deals to buy vehicles from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Apple gets “a lot of optionality by working on the perception stack,” said the second person familiar with the talks. “Bringing a passenger car to the market is really, really hard, and there’s no reason right now they need to jump into it.”

REDUCING COSTS

The designs Apple is seeking could potentially be made with conventional semiconductor manufacturing techniques, all four people familiar with the talks said.

That has the potential to lower prices from the many thousands to the hundreds of dollars as the sensors are produced in larger numbers, similar to chips in phones and other devices. Apple also wants sensors that can see several hundred meters (yards) down the road.

The long-distance requirement shows Apple is interested in fully self-driving vehicles, versus the more limited features such as adaptive cruise control used today, two people familiar with the matter said.

“They’re not happy with most of what they see,” the first person familiar with the matter said. “They’re looking for a revolutionary design.”

A third person familiar with the matter said Apple is seeking a “design-oriented” sensor that would be sleek and unobtrusive enough to fit into the overall lines of a vehicle.

Apple declined to comment.

Apple once investigated building its own vehicle. The company had a team of more than a dozen engineers dedicated to detailed work such as ensuring doors closed quietly instead of slamming shut, a fourth person briefed on the matter said.

Apple last year re-hired Doug Field, an Apple veteran who was serving as Tesla’s engineering chief, to work on Project Titan. The project has about 1,200 people, according to a count in court documents.

Field has been putting his stamp on the effort, laying off about 190 workers but also bringing on key hires such as Michael Schwekutsch, who oversaw electric drive train technology at Telsa. Apple also ramped up its testing miles in California, driving nearly 80,000 last year compared to 800 the year before.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Embassy of India organised Blood Donation Drive (PHOTO)
Embassy of India organised Blood Donation Drive (PHOTO)
Tractor hits mine in Azerbaijan's Fuzuli district
Tractor hits mine in Azerbaijan's Fuzuli district
Remains of Armenian soldier found in Azerbaijan's Fuzuli district
Remains of Armenian soldier found in Azerbaijan's Fuzuli district
Loading Bars
Latest
U.S. FAA says Verizon, AT&T can turn on more towers for 5G deployment
Belgium's total COVID-19 infections exceed 3 mln
Biden says he'll send troops to eastern Europe in ‘near term'
U.S. airlines cancel almost 5,000 flights ahead of Nor'easter
Argentina announces debt agreement with IMF
Canada's COVID-19 cases surpass 3 mln
Fake news, disinformation on COVID, is human rights violation: Pope Francis
Tunisia thwarts alleged terrorist attack targeting tourist areas
Turkey welcomes Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan ceasefire
UN chief calls for observing Olympic Truce
UN thanks Azerbaijan for contributions to budget of organization
Residents of Bina settlement express gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva for establishment of Training and Service Complex (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Russia expands retaliatory list of EU representatives banned from entering country — MFA
Ten injured after bridge collapses in U.S. city Pittsburgh
Iran deal talks are adjourned until next week — EU
Erdogan to visit Ukraine on Feb 3 as part of mediation efforts
Germany's exports to UK continue to decline in 2021: Destatis
Azerbaijan's Agency for State Support to NGOs, Turkey's Ministry of Interior sign memorandum of co-op (PHOTO)
Embassy of India organised Blood Donation Drive (PHOTO)
Tractor hits mine in Azerbaijan's Fuzuli district
Uzbek Central Bank notes growth in volume of loans issued to individuals
Uzbekistan shares data on loan portfolio of its banks for 2021
Russian veterans urge to check Union of Armenians in Russia regarding film about Garegin Nzhdeh
Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan reveals revenue data from communication and information services
Remains of Armenian soldier found in Azerbaijan's Fuzuli district
GDP of Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan growing
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 3,564 more COVID-19 cases, 1,004 recoveries
Russia allocates credit line for construction of Iran`s Sirik power plant - minister
National Bank of Georgia to adopt regulations for cryptocurrency trading platforms
Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan discloses loans issued to population
Azerbaijan Entrepreneurship Development Fund to help businesses create corporate governance mechanisms
German RBC consulting company talks achievements in work on Azerbaijani market
Kazakh president calls on Nur Otan party members to focus on some priorities
Iran Oil Industry Pension Fund eyes to invest in oil and energy sectors
Uzbek UzAuto Motors to generate higher revenue in 2022
Azerbaijan’s Buta Airways becomes most active passenger carrier in Georgia
Kazakhstan-based Nostrum unveils oil production indicators for 2021
Turkmenistan assisting in delivery of Turkish humanitarian aid to Afghanistan
Azerbaijan to increase number of bus routes to Karabakh (Exclusive)
Azerbaijan discloses number of passengers of regular bus trips to liberated Shusha, Aghdam
President Ilham Aliyev congratulates president of Kazakhstan on election as chairman of Nur Otan party
Uzbekistan proposes India to develop co-op in healthcare, education and IT
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signs order on 30th anniversary of Khojaly genocide
Israel signs deal with Novavax for COVID vaccine
Azerbaijan's ANAMA builds new mobile field camp in Aghdam district (PHOTO)
TBC Capital shares data on mortgage loans issuance in Georgia
Turkmen Commodity Exchange discloses data on imports from East Asian countries
SOFAZ places €1 billion deposit with Central Bank of Turkey
Iran seeks to prevent import of luxury goods
India & 5 Central Asian Countries To Form Joint Working Group On Afghanistan
Azerbaijan's foreign trade turnover notably up in 2021
Azerbaijani deputy PM to attend opening ceremony of Olympic Winter Games in Beijing
Uzbekistan sees growth in agricultural production
India for ‘greater urgency’ in trade negotiations with EU, says EAM Jaishankar
Georgia increases textile exports to Turkey
Romanian energy minister to visit Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan records decline in foreign currency sales - chairman of CBA
Georgia’s imports of oil products from Kazakhstan plummet
Turkmenistan to increase electricity supply to Afghanistan
Central Bank of Azerbaijan names allocations made to support national currency rate in 2015
Azerbaijan to build astronomical station in Karabakh region
Use of cryptocurrency not endangering stability of Azerbaijani national currency - CBA
Central Bank of Azerbaijan plans to sign agreement with int’l consulting company
UNIDO to offer expertise for Turkmen energy sector
Central Bank of Azerbaijan names priorities for development of insurance sector
Our first president made huge contribution to strengthening of state - President Tokayev
Nur Otan party should be led by person who was nominated and supported by it in presidential election - Nazarbayev
CBA expects inflation to return to target range Azerbaijan in 2023
Devotion to interests of country has particular importance in politics - Kazakh president
Iran working on connecting of Gilan ports to national railway network
Share of electricity in Azerbaijan’s total exports down
Siraf Pars Port in Iran becomes country's major liquid gas exporter
Global food prices rise to highest level over past decade - FAO (Exclusive)
Decree regulating process of charity on part of big business to be issues in Kazakhstan
French 2021 economic growth strongest in 52 years at 7%
Kazakh-Russian copper deposit dev't project approved by Russia's Main Department of State Expertise
Azerbaijan reveals petroleum coke, oil bitumen exports
Buta Airways to resume flights to Mineralnye Vody in February
Turkmenistan sees decline in trade turnover with Azerbaijan
We'll return to issue of expediency of my further chairmanship in Nur Otan after some time - Tokayev
Representative body of Kazakhstan's Nur Otan party updated by 55%
Azerbaijan unveils volume of transactions via Apple Pay
Public councils created under Nur Otan party should become effective platform - Tokayev
Azerbaijani Central Bank not planning to create new legislative base to regulate digital banks
Central Bank discloses Azerbaijan's possible current account balance in 2022
Potential of Nur Otan party wasn't fully utilized at critical moment - Tokayev
Currency rate of Azerbaijani manat to be stable in 2022 - CBA
Military reforms, increasing of combat capability of troops to be priority in 2022 – Azerbaijan MoD
Dariga Nazarbayeva resigned from Kazakhstan Nur Otan party
Azerbaijan reveals Top 10 oil importers
Azerbaijani CBA forecasts increase in demand for foreign currency
Rothschild & Co eyes creation of special financial zones in Georgia
Azerbaijan increases share of natural gas in exports
Annual inflation to be above target range in Azerbaijan - CBA
Nur Otan Party needs to renew itself - Tokayev
Turkmen enterprise eyes to expand tomato production
Non-OPEC won’t return to pre-COVID levels of oil output
Azerbaijan defense minister expresses condolences to Pakistan
Additional barrels from OPEC+ back to market in 2022 to be less than headline figure
All news