Apple has been working on building an autonomous electric car since 2014, and CEO Tim Cook called its Project Titan effort the “mother of all AI projects,” and “a core technology that we view as very important.”
The is weighing launching its own car, building the self-driving system for an auto-manufacturing partner, or designing an after-market kit that would work with a range of different vehicles.
And it is also said to be developing its own breakthrough battery technology, which could reduce the cost of power packs and extend the vehicle’s range.
But Apple may also be tapping outside partners for elements of the system, including for lidar sensors that provide autonomous vehicles with real-time, 3-D views of the world, even as it works on developing its own lidar technology.
Lidar technology is a core component for self-driving cars as it enables their computers to take a 3-D image of the world around them in order to calculate how far away an object is and if it is moving.
The Reuters report doesn’t name any prospective lidar suppliers that could work with Apple, and noted that the company is examining building its own sensor. Newer iPhones and iPads come with an Apple-designed lidar sensor in their camera modules, but the sensor would have to be modified for use on a vehicle.
Beyond the Apple report, lidar stocks have been driven higher this year on a wave of excitement around electric and self-driving vehicles, with Luminar shares up 245% and Velodyne up 160% for the year.