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Apple's self-driving car program sees first traffic accident

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Apple is developing self-driving technology, and one of its vehicles was involved in an accident on August 24, the first for the tech giant's self-driving program. (Image courtesy of MGN Online)

Apple is developing self-driving technology using a fleet of nearly 60 Lexus RX 450h crossover SUVs fitted with various cameras and sensors used to guide the vehicles.

One of the vehicles was involved in an accident on August 24, California's DMV confirmed in a traffic accident report, the first for the tech giant's self-driving program.

According to the report, Apple's self-driving car with a safety driver onboard was rear-ended by a driver in a Nissan Leaf while in a merging lane on the Lawrence Expressway in Sunnyvale, California.


The self-driving car had slowed to just 1 mph while seeking a safe gap to merge onto the highway, at which point it was hit in the rear by the Leaf which was traveling at 15 mph. Fortunately there were no injuries.

The accident highlights one of the instances where hazards arise from self-driving cars failing to react like human drivers, in this case slowing to a crawl on a highway merging lane. Of course, there are also those instances where self-driving cars directly cause accidents, the most notable being the Uber self-driving car that struck and killed a woman crossing a road in Arizona in March.

Apple remains tight-lipped on the progress of its self-driving car program. CEO Tim Cook in 2017 finally confirmed the company was developing a self-driving system for cars, without saying what the company intended to do with the system once complete. A likely scenario is running an automated ride-hailing service, something Apple is expected to test the waters with using a fleet of Volkswagen Transporter vans running between its two Silicon Valley campuses.

Recently, Apple poached an ex-Waymo engineer for its self-driving car program and patented a navigation system for automated driving.

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