Is this what the Apple Car could look like? Designer imagines tech giant’s long-awaited electric vehicle as a self-driving, 360-degree pod that swivels around and carries two passengers
- Mechanical engineer Devanga Borah has created renderings of what the long-awaited Apple Car may look like
- Like something out of a sci-fi movie, the car has a spherical pod that fits two people and rotates 360 degrees
- Apple has been working on long-rumoured self-driving car project since 2014 but has remained tight-lipped
- Borah’s images, posted to his Instagram page, are only interpretations of the upcoming car from the tech firm
An engineer has created concept images of what the upcoming Apple Car could look like when it is finally released.
Artistic renderings have been created by Devanga Borah, a mechanical engineer at Tezpur University in India, of an autonomous and fully electric vehicle.
Like something out of a dystopian sci-fi film, the renderings depict a bizarre white car consisting of a spherical pod that swivels around 360-degrees on four wheels.
The pod has a circular entrance that flings open like a couple of saloon doors to reveal ‘a cocoon-like cockpit’ with two seats.
Reminiscent of Apple’s eMac computer from 2002, the vehicle is painted in glossy white and features the Apple logo between the front and back sets of wheels.
Artistic renderings have been created by Devanga Borah, a mechanical engineer at Tezpur University in India, of an autonomous and fully electric vehicle called ‘Apple Autonomous’
Borah’s images, posted to his Instagram page, are only interpretations of the upcoming car from the tech firm; the real thing could look quite different when it is finally announced by the tech giant
The bizarre white car consists of a spherical pod that swivels around 360-degrees and opens a set of doors to the passengers
The new Apple Car design may have been inspired by the shiny white curves of Apple’s eMac computer from 2002 (pictured)
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT APPLE CAR?
Apple Car is the long-rumoured self-driving car project of the Cupertino tech giant. It could be a vehicle or a self-driving software system available in other car makes.
Apple has enlisted the services of outside partners for elements of its car, including lidar sensors, which help self-driving cars get a 3D view of the road, sources familiar with Apple’s plans previously said.
Apple Car will reportedly will be powered by breakthrough ‘monocell’ battery technology that could radically reduce costs and increase the vehicle’s range before a recharge is needed.
It remains unclear who would assemble an Apple-branded car, but sources have said they expect the company to rely on a manufacturing partner to build vehicles.
Borah’s images, posted to his Instagram page, are only interpretations of the upcoming car from Apple, which has been in development for around eight years.
Little is known about the Apple project, which is codenamed Project Titan, although previous reports suggested the product could hit the market by 2024.
Apple Car could come in the form of a physical vehicle or even a self-driving software system offered through a traditional carmaker, like iOS for cars.
‘Apple car is a new buzz and keeping that in mind I have created this concept micro car, which is autonomous, electrified and totally “applelic”, Borah said.
He has christened his design ‘Apple Autonomous’ and called it the ‘future of transportation’.
One of the drawbacks of the design is the spherical pod looks slightly pokey.
It’s also windowless, meaning passengers won’t be able to enjoy the views as they’re being driven to work by autonomous technology.
It would also have to rely on artificial lights to ensure passengers aren’t sat in the dark, which could be an unnecessary drain on power.
The hotly anticipated Apple Car has already been imagined in other renderings – UK car leasing firm Vanarama has created images of a sleek grey vehicle with sharp angles and a glowing Apple logo on the radiator grille.
Vanarama’s design, which is based on genuine patents filed by Apple, also includes a customisable touchscreen dashboard and a Siri-like ‘intelligent automated assistant’ to oversee the driving.
‘Although there is virtually no way of knowing what the finished product will look like, these patents are perhaps the best indication as to the direction Apple is taking,’ said Vanarama CEO Andy Alderson.
Apple is looking to have the ‘holy grail’ option for its autonomous car by 2025: no human intervention at all.
Apple Car could have a radically different design and may feature no steering wheel or pedals, Bloomberg reported in November 2021.
It may have an emergency takeover mode even if it does not have a traditional steering wheel.
The lack of human intervention, which is being pushed by the project’s new boss, Kevin Lynch (who previously led the company’s Apple Watch software efforts) would be something that no automaker has yet to achieve, according to Bloomberg.
The ambitious timing of getting a car on the road in four years is faster than the five-to-seven target some engineers had previously stated.
Read more: Apple wants the ‘holy grail’ for its car
Recent reports suggest work on the Apple car is still ongoing, even though the tech giant is very secretive regarding its progress.
In November, it was revealed that Apple had hired Christopher Moore, a former Tesla Autopilot software director.
Moore allegedly had a disagreement with Tesla boss Elon Musk, according to Bloomberg, prompting the move.
Moore is reporting to Stuart Bowers, another former Tesla executive who joined Apple last year, the report said, citing insiders ‘with knowledge of the matter’.
‘The move suggests Apple is plowing ahead with attempts to develop self-driving technology, a high-stakes race with automakers such as Tesla,’ Bloomberg said.
‘Moore is joining a division known for its secrecy – Apple has never publicly laid out its car plans – and frequent turnover.’
Kevin Lynch, who previously led the company’s Apple Watch software efforts, is now leading the Apple Car project.
Doug Field had been head of Apple Car’s efforts until he joined US automobile maker Ford in September 2021.
At Apple, Field was ‘vice president of Special Projects’ – a team that designs prototypes and eventually launches next-gen products for Apple.
Apple Car is undoubtedly one of its ‘special projects’, following the likes of the Mac computer, the iPhone, the iPad and the Apple Watch.
Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed Apple is working on building a car in a brief interview with Bloomberg in 2017, although he said his firm is ‘focusing on autonomous systems’ more than a physical vehicle.
‘We sort of see it as the mother all AI projects,’ Cook said in the interview. ‘It’s probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on.’
The firm is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle, according to sources cited by Reuters at the end of 2020, although the Covid pandemic may have pushed this back.
The car will be powered by ‘monocell’ battery technology that could radically reduce costs and increase the vehicle’s range before a recharge is needed, the sources claimed at the time.
Apple is apparently considering lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, which are inherently less likely to overheat and are therefore safer than other types of lithium-ion batteries.
Apple has been working on a car project since 2014 under the code name Project Titan. Pictured is a possible Apple Car prototype created by ConceptsiPhone
‘It’s next level,’ the source told Reuters. ‘Like the first time you saw the iPhone.’
It remains unclear who would assemble an Apple-branded car, but sources have said they expect the company to rely on a manufacturing partner.
Apple’s car might feature multiple lidar sensors for scanning different distances. Lidar involves lasers that send out short pulses, which bounce back when they hit an obstacle.
Reuters previously reported that Apple had held talks with potential lidar suppliers, but it was also examining options for building its own sensor.
Back in 2015, Apple board member Mickey Drexler told Business Insider that Steve Jobs considered building a car before he died in 2011.
In 2016, ConceptsiPhone created a video of a possible Apple Car prototype, featuring a wide dashboard display, connectivity to other Apple devices, and the company’s trademark minimalist design.
APPLE CAR TIMELINE
While little is known about the development and progress of the Apple Car, rumours have long abound:
2008 — Then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs first expresses an interest in an Apple Car in the wake of both the launch of the original iPhone and the release of Tesla Motor’s first car, according to iPod inventor Tony Fadell and Apple board member Mickey Drexler.
2014 — An electric car project, codenamed ‘Titan’ is allegedly given the go-ahead by Apple CEO Tim Cook.
2015 — Apple is said to have hired new employees for the project, alongside meeting with self-driving car experts and GoMentum Station, a California-based testing ground for autonomous vehicles. The firm hires Daimler Trucks subsidiary Torc to fit sensors to two Lexus SUVs in a project known internally as ‘Baja’.
2016 — Bloomberg reports that Apple has decided to switch its priority over to developing software to power self-driving solutions. However, sources suggest that the firm is still looking to ultimately create a car of its own.
2017 — Tim Cook acknowledges that Apple is working on self-driving technologies. Rumours arise that the firm will be testing autonomous cars on California roads.
2018 — Apple registers 27 self-driving cars with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles. The firm enters a rumoured partnership with Volkswagen to produce an autonomous electric shuttle bus. The FBI charge a former Apple employee for stealing trade secrets relating to project Titan. In August, an Apple self-driving car is rear-ended during road testing.
2019 — Drive.ai, an autonomous vehicle start-up, is acquired by Apple.
2020 — Reuters reports that Apple is working towards a possible Apple Car launch in 2024.
2021 — Industry scuttlebutt has it that Apple is in talks with Hyundai and Kia to jointly produce self-driving electric cars, but the vehicle manufacturers deny this. More rumours emerge of a 2024 launch goal — this time in collaboration with Toyota and its Korean partners.
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