You’d have to have been chasing ants in deepest darkest Africa not to have heard the news about Apple’s coming self-driving all electric car. It’s coming. You read it on the internet so it must be true.
While many of Apple’s half-billion or so customers would love to have a futuristic car that drives itself and does not use gasoline and is designed and built by Apple, there’s that pesky reality we have to deal with. Reality?
What If It Snows?
If the winter weather of 2014-2015 taught us anything it was that vehicles as we know them, use them, and sometimes love them, actually hate bad weather as much as we hate bad weather (except we love to tell each other how bad it was to hate).
Google and its self-driving car project would like the world to think Google is on to something with autonomous driving vehicles, but that’s just a smokescreen to disguise the fact that Google has been unable to diversify itself beyond just being a search engine advertising company.
What? No self-driving vehicles? Sure. But not from Google. And not any time soon despite the company trying to map the world in 3D. The reality is this. The world changes. Maps don’t change as fast.
How likely is that Apple branded self-driving automobile going to handle itself well during a driving rainstorm in the South, or hailstorm in the Midwest, or heavy snowstorm in the Northeast, or a blinding dust storm in the Southwest?
The real world changes itself minute by minute. Apple Maps and Google Maps, not so often. Wait. What about GPS?
Whip out your iPhone and tap Maps’ location feature. How close is your actual position on planet earth to what your iPhone says it is? Cars travel down the road within feet of one another– in both directions. Will a self-driving autonomous car be so precise– in all kinds of weather and road conditions– as to navigate a-n-y-w-h-e-r-e without bumping into something along the way?
There’s little doubt that riding around in Google’s self-driving car in Mountain View, CA is a pleasurable experience. No blinding snow, no horizontal rain, no dust storms or hailstorms. And Google has mapped and remapped every atom of the city over and over again. Apple is likely to do the same in Cupertino, CA, similarly blessed with the blandest of mediocre weather.
When a self-driving autonomous electric car motorvates itself from Chicago to New York in January or August or both– by itself and with passengers, not drivers– then I’ll pay closer attention to the future that newscasters, prognosticators, dreamers, and technology lovers say is almost here. Because the dirty secret is this. It’s all science fiction. It’s not a reality we’ll see any time soon other than on YouTube videos and network newscasts (or, in tests in those few cities that have bland weather and have been mapped and remapped to the atomic level).
Apple may be working on such a self-driving automobile project, and good for Apple. What would it cost to design a self-driving vehicle? A couple of billion dollars? How much would a factory cost? A couple of billion dollars? Apple lost almost that much in currency exchange fluctuations last quarter, and with about $140-billion sitting around and unused by stockholders or Apple itself, money is not the issue. Reality is the issue.