In Brief

Human driver crashes into Apple self-driving car

Company’s autonomous Lexus rear-ended during road testing

One of Apple’s secretive driverless cars has been rear-ended by a human driver an expressway near the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters, California’s road authority has confirmed.

A crash report released by the US state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reveals that the incident involved a Lexus RX 450h development car registered to the tech giant and a Nissan Leaf electric car.

The report says the RX 450h was in “autonomous mode” and was travelling at 1mph when it was hit by the human-piloted Leaf EV, which was moving at 15mph, while merging onto the Lawrence Expressway in Sunnyvale, California, says Reuters

No injuries were reported, but both cars “sustained damage” in the crash, on 24 August. 

All autonomous cars must have a human driver behind the wheel in case of an emergency, such as the computer systems failing. 

Apple has not spoken about last month’s incident, but the BBC says it is believed to be the first of its kind.

The company is understood to have 66 road-registered driverless cars, with 111 drivers registered to operate them, the broadcaster adds. 

Apple’s driverless programme, dubbed Project Titan, has been shrouded in mystery since rumours about its existence first began circulating, in 2014.

The firm’s chief executive, Tim Cook, told Bloomberg last June that he considers driverless cars to be “the mother of all AI (artificial intelligence) projects”.

He did not clarify how Apple plans to use AI technology in its product line-up - whether in the form of a self-driving car or software sold to existing carmakers. 

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