The Apple Car (which many thought was a sure thing, and may still rear its beautiful head someday) and the Google Car (which was never really a thing) are both “officially” out of the autonomous EV equation, in the form of an actual company-made vehicle. At least for now.
However, the fact that Apple is now publicly working on self-driving, machine learning, and augmented reality, all in the neat little package of an autonomous car operating system, is almost as exciting. Especially since the company has recently taken the step of communicating such information with government regulators. To take it all a step further, Google has been working on something very similar all along, albeit much less privately. While there were those cute little Google self-driving flagship prototypes, Google never really intended to make Google Car a business venture.
Perhaps taking note of this all along, Apple has fallen right along side of Google’s plan. Now it is blatantly evident that the two tech giants are well underway with competing projects. There’s an “Apple CarPlay” Autonomous Operating System vs. a Google “Android Auto” Self-Driving Technology Suite brewing. Who knows what it will all really be called, but the bottom line is that the two top competing infotainment systems that have taken over our cars, have big plans to take them over in a more literal sense.
When it’s all said and done, Apple and Google will have to license their systems to existing automakers. The Apple CarPlay and Android Auto situation was a bit slow at first, and then somewhat brand-exclusive, and now has blown up. Most automakers realized that it was counterintuitive to success, to limit which of the systems its vehicles will support, or worse, to support neither, in hopes of providing a better experience on its own. It’s almost like a car company being seen as Democrat or Republican. This is not the best idea, if you want to appeal to all consumers. Thus, nearly every automaker now supports both. What an opportune time for Apple and Google to dive deeper.
The other scenario would be for the companies to partner up with specific manufacturers. Connections are key here, and we have seen both companies laying groundwork. Apple has substantial investments in some of the largest ride-sharing brands in the world, in China and India. Apple is also spending vast amounts of money on previously undisclosed R&D ventures (now we know where the money was going), in locations that are curiously close to established automakers and suppliers. For example, the iOS work with poached Blackberry QNX team members and leaders in Canada, near Magna. How about the R&D center in Italy, alongside Fiat-Chrysler? iTunes boss, Eddy Cue, sits on the Ferrari board with Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne (avid Apple fan). Not to mention Apple’s expansion in the South Korean tech plaza that is home to Hyundai and Kia.
Marchionne himself has publicly offered to build the Apple Car! It gets even more weird, however, when we see reports that Fiat-Chrysler already made a deal to put Google’s self-driving tech in 100 vans as part of a pilot program. Added to this, just this week, the two companies have announced a joint ride-sharing project. It seems Fiat-Chrysler is all over the map on this. Remember, Marchionne is the same CEO that asked the public not to buy his Fiat 500e because electric cars are causing his company to lose money.
All in all, self-driving is here to stay. Tesla bumped the industry ahead from the 2020 estimates, to RIGHT NOW. Every Tesla vehicle coming off of the assembly line today has full level 5 autonomous capability. It’s just a matter of tweaking and testing, and most-importantly, awaiting regulatory approval. For Apple and Google not to use their superior tech prowess and brand strengths to make way in the field, would be
It’s a whole lot cheaper and less-involved than building a car … that’s for sure. Others are moving in fast, from small unknown Silicon Valley start-ups, to a myriad of Chinese tech companies, to household names like Samsung, Blackberry QNX, Bosch, Fisker, and Uber. The original leader of Google’s efforts, Chris Urmson, is working on his own autonomous vehicle endeavors.
You get the picture. That is the end of our rant here. We will keep you posted as it all comes to fruition.