An Apple self-driving car was involved in a crash while merging onto an expressway near the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters this month.
The company revealed the collision in an accident report posted on Friday that confirmed the iPhone maker is still in the race to build autonomous vehicles.
Apple executives have never publicly spoken about the company’s self-driving car program, but filings in a criminal court case last month confirmed that the company had at least 5,000 employees working on the project and that it was working on circuit boards and a “proprietary chip” related to self-driving cars.
Apple is entering a crowded field where rivals such as Alphabet Inc’s Waymo unit and traditional carmakers such as General Motors Co’s Cruise Automation, as well as startups such as Silicon Valley’s Zoox, are pouring billions of dollars into cars that can drive themselves.
On Aug. 24, one of Apple’s Lexus RX 450h self-driving test vehicles in “autonomous mode” was merging south on the Lawrence Expressway in Sunnyvale, California at less than 1 mile per hour when it was rear-ended by a 2016 Nissan Leaf going about 15 miles per hour, according to the report posted on the California Department of Motor Vehicles website.
The car, a modified Lexus RX450h with autonomous sensors, was rear-ended by a human driver in a Nissan Leaf.
Humans were unhurt, but the machines suffered moderate damage.
The DMV does not attribute blame in its reports. Self-driving cars being rear-ended, however, might be considered a trend.
Apple’s car is understood to be part of an ambitious but secretive programme – Project Titan. Apple has not commented on the 24 August collision, understood to be the company’s first.
Speculation as to what the project seeks to achieve ranges from a fully-fledged Apple car – or just working with existing car makers to provide autonomous technology.
Apple’s self-driving programme had been public knowledge, it was revealed that the company now has 66 such cars on the roads, with 111 drivers registered to operate them.
Like every firm experimenting with autonomy in California, Apple must provide regular reports to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), including when a crash occurs.