An Apple self-driving car has been rear-ended while merging onto an expressway near the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters, according to an accident report which therefore confirmed the iPhone maker is still in the race to build autonomous vehicles.
Reuters reports that Apple executives have never publicly spoken about the company’s self-driving car programme, but filings in a criminal court case have 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.
It adds that on 24 August 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 accident happened at about 3 p.m. as the Apple vehicle had slowed and was waiting for a safe gap in traffic to complete the merge, the report said. Both vehicles sustained damage but there were no injuries, the report said. Under a safety plan filed with California regulators, a human driver must be able to take control of Apple’s self-driving test cars.
An Apple spokesman confirmed to Reuters that the company had filed the report but did not comment further. He declined to respond to questions about whether the trailing car could have been at fault.