Apple Nearly Doubles Autonomous Car Test Fleet to 45 Just Since January

Apple's Self-Driving Lexus by Bloomberg

Apple has quietly almost doubled the number of permitted cars it has in its fleet of self-driving cars. There are now 45 permitted Apple autonomous vehicles on the road in California, up sharply from 27 in just January.

That makes Apple the second largest tester of autonomous cars in the state, behind GM (110 permitted cars), and ahead of Google’s WayMo (24), Uber (29), and Tesla (39). Waymo and Uber, however, have many more cars permitted in Arizona, which has taken a much more hands-off approach to regulating autonomous vehicle testing.

Apple's Self-Driving Lexus by Bloomberg
Apple’s Autonomous Vehicle in Testing

Apple Autonomous Vehicles

Which is actually how these numbers came up in a Financial Times of London piece about the aftermath of a tragic pedestrian fatality involving an Uber car in autonomous driving mode. Focusing on Arizona’s light touch on regulating self-driving cars, the piece included a round up of the big players’ permits in this space. Here’s the interesting tidbit regarding Apple (as first noted by MacRumors):

After first receiving a permit to test just three autonomous vehicles in April last year, that figure jumped to 27 in January. It has almost doubled since then to 45 vehicles, according to DMV figures provided to The Financial Times.

What’s most interesting to me is that Apple has expanded in this way without much attention. And increasing the fleet from 27 to 45 cars in less than three months is an aggressive expansion, not to mention going from 3 to 45 in less than a year.

It also says to me that Bob Mansfield has made significant strides towards achieving a viable autonomous vehicle system. You may remember he was brought in to straighten out Project Titan—the code name for Apple’s car project—or kill it if need be. His initial decision was to cut way back on designing a car and focus instead on proving the team could develop an autonomous system.

Getting 45 cars on the road suggests he and his team are doing just that. Now we just have to wait and see exactly how and where such a system will manifest.

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