Apple’s secretive self-driving vehicle program has disclosed its first accident, according to a report filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
The low speed accident, which occurred August 24, is a milestone of sorts for the company, albeit not one that is being celebrated. These days, as more companies head out onto public streets to test their autonomous vehicle systems, accidents have become more common. The vast majority are minor, low-speed incidents.
There was just one accident involving a self-driving vehicle (that one was owned by Delphi) reported to the DMV in 2014. So far this year, there have been more than 40 accidents involving self-driving cars reported to CA DMV.
The first fatal autonomous vehicle accident, which involved an Uber self-driving vehicle striking a pedestrian, occurred in March in Arizona.
The Apple test car was attempting to merge onto an expressway near its headquarters in Cupertino, California, and traveling about 1 mile per hour, when it was rear-ended by a Nissan Leaf, according to the report. There were no injuries reported. Both parties reported moderate damage to their vehicles.
Apple doesn’t talk about its self-driving vehicle program. The tech company’s permit with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the agency responsible for monitoring AVs in the state, is the only official acknowledgment that it even has a program. Apple’s self-driving program has been considered an open secret in Silicon Valley. And more recently, CEO Tim Cook has made references to the company’s interest in autonomous systems. In an interview with Bloomberg, he called it the mother of all AI projects. But the company doesn’t talk about its program or its ultimate product plans.
The accident report doesn’t reveal much, beyond the make and model of Apple’s test vehicle. The self-driving test vehicle involved in the accident was a 2016i Lexus RX450H. This the same make and model that Google used to test its self-driving system.