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Apple Talking To Firms For Possible Self Driving Car Sensor Supplier: Reuters

Apple Talking To Firms For Possible Self Driving Car Sensor Supplier: Reuters
According to a report from Reuters quoting sources with knowledge, iPhone maker Apple is holding negotiations with at least four companies for selecting as possible suppliers of lidar sensors in self-driving cars with the aim of judging the technology of the suppliers while still carrying on with its own program of development of the lidar unit.
This report clearly indicates that the ambitions of Apple to get into the self driving vehicles market segment have not died down yet. Its secretive project in this regards is called Project Titan – about which very little is publicly and officially known. The next-generation lidar is critical for full functionality of self driving cars because it provides the car computers with a three-dimensional view of the road and the negotiations are focused on this technology, the report claims.
The sources reportedly told Reuters that compared to the type of lidars currently available in the market what Apple is looking out for are smaller and cheaper ones that can be mass produced in production lines more easily. Sources also said that apple is demanding a “revolutionary design” for the lidars and thereby is setting the bar high.
The efforts of the company to secure the lidar sensors indicate that Apple is keen of the securing the development of the entire chain of hardware that helps to guide self driving vehicles. Many of the largest auto companies in the world are also in the race for the same along with a host of tech companies. 
Laser light pulses are used for rendering the precise image of the environment surrounding a self driving car in the lidar systems that are currently available which includes the ones from Velodyne Inc which been used earlier by Apple for its fleet of self-driving test vehicles. However the issue with the current systems is that they make use of mechanical parts to sweep the laser scanners across the road and can cost as much as $100,000 for a unit.
This use of mechanized parts makes the current lidar systems prone to failure in a practical mass production and usage setting and too bulky to be used easily.
In recent times, Apple has hired key personnel from Tesla Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google and has reportedly been sharply focusing on increasing its road testing of autonomous vehicles.
There is a confusion about the aim of Apple setting up the Project Titan – whether it wants to develop its own vehicles or wants to become a supplier of hardware and software for self driving cars for other companies, all the while also keeping its options open to tie up with a partner to assemble a complete self driving car. 
The report, quoting two sources, also claimed that Apple is believed to have its own internal lidar sensor under development apart from evaluating potential outside suppliers.
The Reuters report also quoted the sources as saying that the conventional semiconductor manufacturing techniques could potentially be used to develop the designs Apple is seeking.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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