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Apple expands autonomous vehicle fleet to 27 cars

Apple has grown its autonomous car fleet, putting even more of their self-driving test vehicles on the streets of California.

The tech giant now has 27 Lexus RX450h hybrid SUVs on the road. All of the vehicles — which are part of “Project Titan” — are testing driverless software, and they each are equipped with both camera arrays and various custom features.

While adding more cars is a big step, Apple is not a large player in the autonomous vehicle industry. The company has been attempting to create driverless cars for years. While they just increased their number, they are still much smaller than other companies who are also looking into such technology. For instance, Alphabet’s Waymo has hundreds of autonomous cars on the road, and they recently announced that they plan to bring its latest minivan to San Francisco.

The first three of Apple’s 27 vehicles were leased from Hertz and registered with a driverless testing permit in April 2017. While only 24 cars have been added since then, there is some speculation that Apple is not producing a lot because it does not want to create its own wireless car. Rather, it hopes to build driverless systems that could then be licensed out to different automakers, Slash Gear reports.

This new strategy shows different approaches to the autonomous car space. While some startups want to have their own brand of driverless vehicles, others are looking to get into a bigger space. For instance, Bosch — which is already known as a Tier 1 component supplier to most of the existing automakers — wants to work on the framework for self-driving cars.

It is not clear who Apple is going to license its technology to, but that is a question that should be answered as the company gets closer to public operations. Many companies want to have autonomous cars on the road by 2020, and that advanced time frame could force Apple’s hand within the next two years.

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