Apple’s Autonomous Vehicle Testing Increases in California in 2023

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Apple’s autonomous vehicle project has been kept largely under wraps, but records submitted to a California agency have revealed that the company significantly increased its testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads in 2023. The data covers December 2022 to November 2023 and shows that Apple’s testing miles almost quadrupled compared to 2022 and increased by a factor of more than 30 compared to 2021.

The majority of the testing miles occurred in the second half of the reporting period, with the peak in August at 83,900 miles. It’s important to note that Apple is required to have a safety driver behind the wheel while testing its autonomous vehicle technology on California’s public roads. This allows the company to collect data and evaluate how its software performs in real-world traffic scenarios.

In contrast, a few companies, such as Alphabet’s Waymo and Amazon’s Zoox, have been granted permission to test their autonomous vehicle technology without safety drivers. Furthermore, only two companies, Waymo and Nuro, are allowed to deploy commercial self-driving technology in California.

Although Apple’s testing totals are lower than those of more advanced autonomous vehicle developers, such as Waymo and Cruise, it’s difficult to make direct comparisons due to differences in reporting guidelines. Waymo, for example, drove 3.7 million testing miles with a safety driver and 1.2 million miles without a safety driver in California. Additionally, Waymo conducted over 1.6 million additional miles with passengers in the car. Cruise, despite facing challenges with its permit to deploy in California, still managed to drive almost 2.65 million testing miles in the state in 2023—nearly 2.2 million more than Apple.

Overall, Apple has significantly increased its testing of autonomous vehicle technology in California in 2023. However, the company’s testing totals are still lower than those of more advanced competitors. It remains to be seen how Apple’s autonomous vehicle project will evolve in the coming years and how the company will fare in the highly competitive autonomous vehicle industry.

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