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Apple's Self-Driving Car Projects Hit Road Bumps

Apple's Self-Driving Car Projects Hit Road Bumps

Apple's efforts to produce self-driving cars have failed to pick up steam owing to a lack of team coordination and the blurring of leadership goals, even as rival companies steadily enter the autonomous car market.

Apple’s concept of self-driving cars gained publicity about eight years ago and was even touted as the first new "big thing" from the company since the passing of its founder Steve Jobs in 2011.

Self-driving cars produced by Apple have encountered trouble on streets near its Silicon Valley headquarters, including several bumping curbs and straying from lanes, with one almost hitting a jogger legally crossing the road, this according to citing sources working on such projects.

Team troubles resulting from ill-defined goals and leadership, staff turnover and a lack of faith in the project by high-ranking Apple executives have been the main reasons for the stalled progress.

Apple chief Tim Cook has maintained his belief in self-driving cars being an ideal match for the technology giant during his interviews with the media.

"An autonomous car is a robot, and so there are a lot of things you can do with autonomy; we will see what Apple does," Cook told journalists.

Cook hinted that an option could be for Apple to build an autonomous-driving technology platform used by automakers. Apple first revealed its self-driving tech aspirations in 2016, and Cook has since then said that he sees autonomous driving systems as a "core technology" for the future.

Apple acknowledged last year that it delegated a smaller team to self-driving car technology but stressed that it's still in the race.

Most major auto manufacturers and many technology groups are currently developing autonomous vehicles, still considered to be the future of the automobile, along with the advancement of electric power.

Less than a year ago, Waymo, the self-driving unit at Google's parent company Alphabet, expanded its robotaxi service to riders in San Francisco in another step toward fully autonomous ride-hailing.

The company allows "trusted testers" to hail rides in self-driving cars with an "autonomous specialist" on board for backup.

The move expanded the Waymo ride-hailing program which has been operating in Phoenix, Arizona since 2017, as rivals work to launch similar operations.

Waymo has been moving ahead of most competitors and has raised billions of dollars in anticipation of a wider launch.