Apple is in discussions with multiple suppliers of self-driving car sensors known as lidar, according to people familiar with the matter, a key milestone toward development of its first passenger vehicle.
The technology giant is in active talks with a number of potential suppliers for these laser-based sensors that allow a car’s computer to “see” its surroundings, said the people, who asked not to be identified due to the private nature of the discussions.
The company has been working on a driverless vehicle project for several years and has developed on its own most of the necessary software, underlying processors and artificial intelligence algorithms needed for such a sophisticated system.
As it’s done with the iPhone, Apple is looking to outside vendors to supply critical hardware for a planned autonomous vehicle, the people said.
The ongoing discussions are a sign that Apple has yet to settle on a preferred supplier for lidar and that it’s likely mulling a range of options, including a heavily customized version of the sensors, as it moves toward developing a car design. That is an indication that a finished product is still several years away.
An Apple spokesman declined to comment.