Apple’s Self-Driving Cars Doubled Road Testing in 2020, But Lags Way Behind Others

An autonomous car from Apple is already in development, and despite Hyundai’s complete U-Turn from prior claims that the company would be developing Apple’s car for them, news of the autonomous car from Apple is still leaking out.

Apple’s self-driving cars drove 18,805 miles last year, according to data made available to the California Department of Motor Vehicles this week, reports Bloomberg. Apple had driven only 7,544 miles in 2019.

GM’s Cruise startup saw 770,000 miles tested in California, while Alphabet’s Waymo fleet drove 628,839 miles. It’s clear Apple is not even close to releasing an autonomous electric vehicle.

The iPhone maker’s autonomous cars also saw 130 disengagements in that time, in which the human driver had to take over, compared to just 64 disengagements the prior year. This means that Apple’s driving tests resulted in a disengagement every 145 miles, while 2019 saw a disengagement every 118 miles.

Compared to 2018, however, when Apple’s cars drove almost 80,000 miles in testing, last year actually saw a decrease in road testing for the autonomous vehicle. Instead, Apple seemed to have spent the time shopping around its product, trying (unsuccessfully) to ink a deal with one lucky manufacturer.

While an Apple Car won’t see the public market for at least another five years, the company has already hired a number of Tesla alumni to help produce drive trains, and other key components, including former Tesla Chief Engineer Doug Field, who was recruited by Apple in 2018, and replaced by John Giannandrea in late 2020.

As Apple’s cars dive into the thick of road testing once again, a number of companies are making their own attempts at autonomous driving systems. Apple has a long road ahead when it comes to testing, compared to Tesla and its customers collecting Autopilot data and current Full Self-Driving beta testers.