Per a Reuters report , Apple Inc.AAPL scientists Yin Zhou and Oncel Tuzel presented a research report on autonomous vehicles to online journal, arXiv on Nov 17.
The paper talks briefly about a technology that in spite of using fewer sensors will enable self-driving cars to better detect cyclists and pedestrians.
The new technology “VoxelNet” as proposed by the company’s scientists relies only on Light Imaging, Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) data to detect three dimensional objects on road.
The researchers argue that VoxelNet will be able to eliminate the reliability issues associated with LiDAR systems. Use of LiDAR requires an additional camera to spot distant objects.
Although the new solution has not been tested on real cars but per computer simulation (KITTI Car Detection Benchmark), it “outperforms the state-of-the-art LiDAR based 3D detection methods by a large margin.”
Notably, shares of Apple have gained over 51.1% year to date, significantly outperforming the industry’s 49.9% rally.
Efforts in Self-Driving Cars
Apple’s autonomous car technology development efforts have been in the news since 2014-2015.
On its August conference call, CEO Timothy Donald Cook said, “autonomy is the mother of all AI projects”. He mentioned an ongoing project in autonomous vehicles and the large investment related to it.
The CEO added that, “autonomous systems can be used in a variety of ways and a vehicle is only one.”
However, the company has not disclosed any information pertaining to it so far, not even in its Apple Machine Learning Journal that was launched in the month of July. The disclosure of this research paper is important for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in our view.
In April, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMW) reported that Apple secured a permit to test self-driving of three vehicles (2015 Lexus RX450h models) with two drivers each.
In August, it was reported that Apple was testing its self-driving technology with its employee ferry vehicles. The effort codenamed PAIL (Palo Alto to Infinite Loop – Apple’s office) will shuttle Apple employees to its various offices located in the Silicon Valley. Reportedly, 5K employees use the company shuttle to travel to work.
The company was earlier rumored to be working on an “iCar”, which later lost steam as the project was reportedly marred by conflicts and management troubles. There were also reports of the company making talent acquisitions as well as collaborating with the likes of BMW for the car design.
Apple Inc. Price
Apple Inc. Price | Apple Inc. Quote
Autonomous Car Market
According to Boston Consulting Group estimates, the autonomous car market will be worth $42 billion by 2025 and $77 billion by 2035. Per Statista, the market for fully autonomous vehicles will grow to almost $6 billion while partially autonomous vehicles market will reach $36 billion by 2025.
We note that the robust growth in the number of autonomous vehicles will lead to a subsequent increase in demand for sensor technology and auto components (chips, electronic circuits, algorithms) that support advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), the basic building block of self-driving cars.
Notably, the evolution of driverless cars is a significant boost for technology companies like Apple, Alphabet GOOGL , Intel INTC , Qualcomm and NVIDIA NVDA , among others who are already putting in efforts to tap the growing market by developing new and advanced technologies for autonomous vehicles.
Cab aggregators Uber and Lyft, search engine Baidu, Microsoft, as well as automakers General Motors, Ford and Volkswagen are prominent names looking to capitalize on this extremely lucrative opportunity.
This week, Uber announced a new deal with Volvo per which the company is planning to buy 24,000 of Volvo’s flagship XC90 SUV cars.
However, analysts are skeptical about self-driving cars being feasible before 2020, at least.
Apple has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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