Apple Increases its Number of Self-driving Car Drivers

After almost a year later, Apple has again increased the number of drivers for its fleet of autonomous test vehicles. We have been closely monitoring the numbers.

Autonomous vehicles, or self-driving cars, are vehicles that can sense the environment and “drive” themselves without (or with little) help from a human driver. In our last report (almost a year ago), Apple had 149 drivers. Now, after almost a year with no change, they have increased this number to 154. The number of Apple’s self-driving cars remain the same (66 vehicles).

California initiated its autonomous vehicle tester program in 2014. When it comes to testing autonomous vehicles, there are permits used for testing vehicles with drivers known as drivered permits, and permits for testing vehicles without drivers known as driverless permits. In 2018, California established the driverless testing program.

In the category of drivered permits, some of the manufacturers topping the list in the number of drivers and vehicles are, current numbers:

ManufacturerDriversVehicles
Waymo582198
Cruise570201
Zoox32160
Nvidia24613
Apple15466
Tesla13632
Nuro10838
Lyft8422
PONY.AI6327
Mercedes-Benz6116

Waymo, formerly Google Self-Driving Car Project tops the list in terms of number of drivers with 582 drivers and 198 vehicles on their testing permit. Cruise, parented by GM, is close behind in the number of drivers, with 570 and is testing more cars than Waymo with 201. The other manufacturers on the list are testing significantly fewer cars than Waymo and Cruise.

Apple continues to use drivers to test its fleet of 66 autonomous vehicles, while four different manufacturers now have permits to test driverless vehicles. Those four are Waymo, Nuro, Autox Tech., and Zoox. Waymo has 39 vehicles registered in its driverless testing fleet and Nuro has 7. Autox and Zoox have 1 and 2 respectively.

Zoox, a subsidiary of Amazon, is the latest company to acquire a driverless permit to test vehicles without a safety driver present. Under this permit, granted in September, they are able to test a driverless vehicle in good weather on specific streets with a speed limit under 45 mph.

Here is a look at the top five companies around this time in October last year.

ManufacturerDriversVehicles
Waymo265151
Cruise867259
Zoox22650
Nvidia21611
Apple14966

Apple’s fleet size hasn’t changed since this time last year. Waymo has added more than 40 vehicles to its fleet and Zoox has added 10. Cruise’s fleet size has decreased, however, they still rank number one in terms of fleet size.

Since this time last year, several companies have dropped off the list of manufacturers that hold permits to test autonomous vehicles in the state of California. Notable changes to the list include Samsung, and Saic Innovation Center. Saic is a Chinese Auto manufacturer who has had a permit since June 2017 and was previously permitted to test 8 vehicles with 24 drivers. Roadstar.ai, a Chinese autonomous vehicle startup founded in 2017, is another one gone from the list and was previously permitted to test 2 vehicles with 8 drivers.

See also:

Dr. Stacey Butler is a tech writer at macReports covering news, how-tos, and user guides. She is a longtime Mac and iPhone user and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Here is her LinkedIn profile.

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