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Rumored lidar shopping suggests Apple is still serious about autonomy

Enlarge (credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Apple has talked to at least four different companies about purchasing lidar sensors, Reuters reports. Apple is also reportedly working on a home-built lidar sensor. The news suggests that Apple is still taking its self-driving car effort, known internally as Project Titan, seriously.

Apple hasn’t publicly revealed what kind of self-driving technology it is working on, and indeed reporting suggests that the company’s plans have shifted over time. Way back in 2015, the Wall Sreet Journal reported that Apple was developing an electric car and had hundreds of people working on the project. The next year, the New York Times reported that Apple was scaling back the project and was looking to partner with an existing automaker rather than building a car from scratch. By 2017, the Times was reporting Apple had “put off any notion of an Apple-branded autonomous vehicle and is instead working on the underlying technology that allows a car to drive itself.”

Last year, Apple rehired Doug Field, a former Apple executive who had left to oversee Tesla’s vehicle engineering—once again sparking speculation that Apple might get into manufacturing. In January, Apple laid off about 200 Project Titan engineers and reassigned others in a shakeup led by Field.

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