Apple Car inches towards reality as a new report indicates a test autopilot chip order
Although the Apple Car self-driving vehicle has not even been announced yet, rumors about it have been surfacing on the internet for quite some time, building up hype for the product (which may or may not launch in a few years). Now, 9to5Mac reports that the autopilot chip appears to be a step closer to becoming reality as Apple has reportedly placed an order with a Korean company.
Apple Car inches towards reality: a test chip order placed
It seems that the Apple Car project is progressing towards becoming a reality. The Elec reports that a test order for an autopilot chip has been placed with a Korean company. Keep in mind that this order is not for the final chip, as it would most certainly be made by Apple’s partner TSMC (the company is responsible for fabricating Apple’s A-series and M-series of chips). Instead, the order placed with a South Korean semiconductor and test company seems to be for modules that would be incorporated into the chip. The company (it wasn’t named in the report) is reported to work on an autopilot chip, basically, a chip that operates the autopilot function like those used by Tesla.
These chips oversee AI computations. They usually integrate a neural processing unit, CPU, GPU, memory, and even a camera interface among other functions.
The Elec’s sources claimed that Tesla used Samsung’s memory and gave the assembly work to a South Korean firm named “JCET STATSChipPAC Korea” when developing its autopilot chip module. Additionally, the sources claimed that Apple seems to be taking a similar route for its Apple Car project.
On top of that, it seems that work has been ongoing for almost a year despite the contract just appearing now. According to the same report, the contract between the Korean firm and Apple is scheduled to be completed next year.
This process seems similar to what Apple has done for the development of the M1 chip. Basically, individual modules are initially made as standalone chips in order for them to be thoroughly tested, and then those standalone chips are integrated within a single chip.
A patent based render for a possible Apple Car design
However, Apple’s exact plans for the Apple Car are still quite unclear. We don’t know yet if it will make cars to be sold directly to customers, if they would be leased to rideshare companies, or if the tech would be incorporated into cars by existing brands.
Apple Car: here are the most recent rumors about it
Rumors about the Apple Car have been going on for months, including a frequent turnover that was reported for the project itself, as well as several reports about Apple working on partnerships for the project. One such recent development that was reported was about Apple supplier Luxshare. The company that was responsible for making AirPods have been reported to be working with a Chinese electric vehicle maker The Chert Group. In this partnership, the two companies are planning to develop and manufacture electric vehicles.
Reportedly, this venture should start within the next three months, has a capitalization of about 1.7 billion yuan (roughly around $267 million), and should also construct a new factory plant.
Another rumor that we reported last month is that Apple has been meeting up with Korean carmakers in order to find partnerships for the Apple Car project.
According to that report, Apple is expected to select and announce its main partner for the self-driving car by the end of the year. After that, a full-scale development is expected to start. On top of that, multiple Korean firms have joined something like a “Task Force” intending to get a piece of that Apple Car business.