Roar writer Scarlett Yu speculates how Apple’s autonomous vehicles may set a trend for future digital innovation and societal change.

In an increasingly digital era, technology has been expanding with unprecedented speed and range. With the continuing discovery of new technologies and digital services, society is witnessing a period of high technological growth that has ultimately led to enormous change in people’s daily lives.

In 2020, as people explore greater technological fields, AI has become one of the main focuses of human research and development as this domain serves to become the driving force of future inventions. The picture of what society will be like in the coming years is still obscure, but technological advancements currently being pushed offer aspiring depictions of a futuristic society where people’s lives are enhanced by digital devices. The excitement and anticipation for a revolutionary future constructed through such new technologies have eminently fuelled motivation to initiate great digital plans.

Apple has also developed grand plans for another digital device which they believed would be the next star product in an AI-prevalent society within the next decade. Apple’s new autonomous vehicle project, notably called “Project Titan”, seeks to develop autonomous vehicles.

Led under Apple CEO Tim Cook and supervised by industrial design consultant Eric Martinez, the Apple car has been perceived as one of the most significant devices for allowing them to push the boundaries of AI technology, endowing new perspectives and opportunities on the future digitised world. In a public interview on Bloomberg in 2017, Tim Cook confirmed Apple’s intentions to enter the automotive market, focusing on autonomous driving systems and building exclusive plans for electric, autonomous vehicles.

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems. It’s a core technology that we view as very important. We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects”, he said.

Acknowledging the project’s focus on self-driving software, one of the core fields Apple explores is thoroughly specialised AI technologies, to provide an immersive driving experience. The primary technologies involved in the software are, most notably: augmented reality displays, enhanced battery designs, and virtual reality integrations.

Tim Cook believed in the boundless potential of augmented reality to be integrated into the autonomous vehicle, emphasising its ability to encourage human-computer interaction in an engaging and poignant way. The new battery design, which frees space for active materials to enhance vehicle range and efficiency, is seen as an upgrade on new battery technology – a “next level” technique equipped with the potential to open up further developments.

The combination of VR and autonomous software has the potential to adapt perception of driving conditions to help mitigate motion sickness. The Apple car could also shift between personal control and a self-driving engine based on the driver’s customary needs. These technologies are richly incorporated in the development of an AI-based autonomous car so that consumer needs for innovative and enriching vehicle control could be widely attained.

Apple has been accelerating their development of a fully self-driving car and has occasionally been caught throughout the years on California roads conducting driving tests for their autonomous software system. Additionally, Apple has also secured several suppliers for fundamental components of their LIDAR sensor systems, as well as manufacturing partners for mass production.

The project has potential to establish a revolutionary design that serves as a model for future autonomous vehicles. There hasn’t been any concrete information released regarding the Apple car’s official debut. But it is speculated to enter production in 2024 and to launch in the market between 2025 to 2027 at the earliest; though the current pandemic may obstruct development and production, which would subsequently postpone the release date to 2028.

Could the invention of the autonomous Apple car be the catalyst for greater digital innovation in wider society? We all know how sophisticated Apple is at weaving their digital products and services into the social experience as lives are radically transformed by great innovations. Their iPhone, for instance, through years of vigorous development and advancement of mobile techniques, has now prevailed as an indispensable social product in the digital era.

Apple’s ambitions to expand “Project Titan” could be a similar attempt to latch onto an increasingly fast-paced, AI-dominated society and market predicted to arise in the next few years. As such, it’s profound focus on the development of autonomous technologies is solid proof of AI’s rising influence in global industry.

As the Apple Car undergoes a tightly knitted schedule of development and testing, its presence may be acknowledged as the start of a new technological revolution. Under the leadership of Tim Cook, it is with great aspiration that he is envisioning a future where AI could enhance one’s daily experience in the world – an interwoven vision of augmented reality services and real-life stimuli. Excitingly, the Apple Car is possibly the initiating product set to transform futuristic visions into reality.

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