KEY POINTS

  • Apple will produce its self-driving vehicle in 2024
  • The company's Protect Titan aims to design a “breakthrough” battery that increases the vehicle's range
  • Apple's vehicle may use LiDar sensors found in the iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro

Apple Inc. is set to take on Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company, Tesla, as it aims to produce a “breakthrough” self-driving car in 2024. 

In 2014, the company famous for its iPhone and iPad lines launched Project Titan with the aim of designing its own vehicle from scratch. Apple drew back the project to reassess goals, and has remained secretive about its self-driving car division.

However, on Tuesday, Apple announced plans to begin manufacturing a personal vehicle for the mass market to rival Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, two people familiar with the project told Reuters. Apple’s plan involves a battery that features a “breakthrough” mono cell design that would enable the company to reduce the cost of batteries and significantly increase the vehicle’s range. 

The multinational technology company is reportedly exploring using lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry, which is less prone to overheating. LFP batteries also do not require cobalt.

More than 60% of the world’s cobalt supply is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2016, investigators found that children as young as 7 were forced to work in the mines, putting them at risk for health problems and fatal accidents. 

“The glamourous shop displays and marketing of state of the art technologies are a stark contrast to the children carrying bags of rocks, and miners in narrow manmade tunnels risking permanent lung damage,” Mark Dummett, business and human rights researcher at Amnesty International, said in a report

Apple’s Project Titan may also feature LiDar sensors that use laser light and reflection to measure distance. These components were found in the company’s iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro.

It is unclear who would assemble Apple’s self-driving vehicle. The company is expected to rely on manufacturing partners to build the car. Apple also may decide to focus on building an autonomous driving system and integrating it with a car built by an automaker, sources said. 

“If there is one company on the planet that has the resources to do that, it’s probably Apple,” a person who worked on Project titan said. “But at the same time, it’s not a cellphone.”  Apple is adding labels to its apps so that users can easily see and understand what those programs do with their data Apple is adding labels to its apps so that users can easily see and understand what those programs do with their data Photo: AFP / Alastair Pike