Apple has expanded its autonomous vehicle test fleet, according to Bloomberg, jumping from just three cars registered with the California DMV last year, to 27 vehicles in total now.
The fleet consists entirely of Lexus RX450h SUVs, a popular choice for anyone working on autonomous car tech because they can be fairly easily retrofitted with aftermarket sensors to complement those on board and be ready for testing. Apple has been adding new cars to its fleet since around July of last year, according to the report.
Apple’s efforts around AV development have focused primarily on software and machine learning, according to earlier reports, papers published in machine learning journals and other signals. Observers who’ve seen the hardware Apple is testing out in public on California roads near its Cupertino HQ theorize that the array Apple uses atop its cars includes not only sensors, but also computer hardware, too.
It’s not clear yet whether this would suggest what Apple intends to ultimately ship is some kind of aftermarket modification for existing cars, but earlier reports about it scaling back some of its efforts and Tim Cook’s own previous statements indicate that it’s focused primarily on systems, rather than vehicles themselves.